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About Duke Henderson

For a guy with as voluminous a discography as Los Angeles shouter Duke Henderson, one would think someone might possess concrete biographical information about the guy. No such luck. Henderson got his start as a recording artist with Apollo Records, a New York firm that sent a rep to Los Angeles in 1945 with the intention of recording blues. Tenor saxist Jack McVea recommended Henderson, who ended up cutting three Apollo dates that year with backing from some of L.A.'s finest sessioneers: saxists Wild Bill Moore, Lucky Thompson, and McVea, guitarist Gene Phillips, bassists Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus, and drummers Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant.

Swinging as they were, Henderson's Apollo platters failed to sell in sufficient quantities to extend his contract. Thus began a label-hopping odyssey from Globe to Downbeat/Swing Time to Specialty to Modern to Imperial and finally to Flair, where he exhibited a knowledge of then-current sexual trends with his "Hey Mr. Kinsey" (issued as by Big Duke in 1953). Later, Henderson renounced his wicked blues-shouting past, sending the L.A. sanctified set as Brother Henderson, a minister and gospel deejay broadcasting for a time over XERB (the same powerful south-of-the-border frequency that Wolfman Jack dominated). ~ Bill Dahl

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