Today we tackle a question for the ages: How many times is the word “duke” chanted or sung in Gene Chandler’s 1962 hit record “Duke of Earl”?
Answers.com had the number (or a good guess): 132 times, according to Chicago disc jockey Dick Biondi. That’s in a song that lasts 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Further research revealed these two legends of music and radio are still around.
Gene is 78 and has been active as a singer, producer and record company executive since 1957. He never had a #1 record after “Duke of Earl,” but reached #12 on the Billboard chart in 1970 with “Groovy Situation.”
Dick is 83 and still does Saturday and Sunday mornings on Chicago oldies station WLS-FM. Known for his high-energy presentation (code for “screamer”), he gained national prominence when that station’s AM side ditched its “Prairie Farmer” identity for Top 40 in 1960.
Lots of DJs from that era were well-traveled, but Dick’s antics made him a legend before he turned 30. Never impressed by station managers, and he once described one’s car on the air and asked listeners to throw rocks at it. That happened, and he was fired the next day (one of 23 firings he claims).
Hoping to semi-retire, Dick applied for a job at a station in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in 1973. The manager didn’t realize who he was when he agreed to do mornings for a piddling salary. That led to a decade of playing golf almost every afternoon. In the pre-Internet days, a TV reporter from Chicago tracked him down for a “where are they now?” story, which led to decades of big money in Chicago.
As you listen to “Duke of Earl,” consider how many times Dick has played it on the radio. The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Uht69h8Is