Duke was born Michael John Robillard on October 4, 1948 in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. His first guitar influences were Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Duane Eddy and Link Wray. ‘It was a few years after I was playing in high school bands that I discovered the blues,’ Robillard remembers. In 1967, pianist Al Copley and him founded Roomful Of Blues and Robillard spent more than ten years with the group; leaving in 1979 to become bandleader for rockabilly icon Robert Gordon. ‘I enjoyed playing with him and at one point got to play a few shows with Danny Gatton in the band. It was real cool playing with Danny and he was a great guy,’ Robillard recalls. Soon after, he joined The Legendary Blues Band that included past performers of Muddy Waters’ bands. Duke started his own band in 1981; and The Duke Robillard Band eventually became Duke Robillard and The Pleasure Kings. in 1990, he joined The Fabulous Thunderbirds replacing Jimmy Vaughan; and later Duke went on tour with Tom Waits and also in two different times, the last in 2013, with Bob Dylan. Duke Robillard is a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, band leader, studio sideman, producer, radio dj, label owner, teacher and record collector who plays traditional r&b, standards and ballads, rockers, Chicago blues, New Orleans jazz, country and rockabilly; and who also has a solo career touring and recording music in other genres. He once formed a duo with jazz guitarist Herb Ellis and a swing trio, New Guitar Summit, with six-stringers Gerry Beaudoin and J. Geils from The J. Geils Band
. Tellingly, he is the rare artist who works on the other side of the recording studio as well. Check out his premier production talents on blues guitar legend Joe Louis Walker’s Between A Rock and The Blues
(2009) (Stony Plain) and Everyone Wants A Piece
(2015) (Stony Plain). Duke also collects rare 78 rpm records which inspire and influence his planning, playing and performances. ’78 collecting is something I’ve been doing since the ’70’s,’ Robillard recounts, ‘and talking about my 78’s is a story in itself,’ he grins. Duke’s enormous collection of 78 rpm records is extraordinary, and quite impressive; and as unique as the man himself. For the foreseeable future, expect more of the same from this awesome artist and take it for granted you’ll see Duke Robillard everywhere!.