Duke Robillard

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!.   
 
(by A.J. Wachtel)
 
Awards
Best Blues Guitarist: W.C. Handy Award 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004
* Grammy nomination: Best Contemporary Blues Album- ‘Guitar Groove-a-Rama’ 2007
* Grammy nomination: Best Traditional Blues Album- ‘Stomp! The Blues Tonight’ 2010
* Keeping The Blues Alive Award for Producer of The Year 2004
 
Discography

As leader/co-leader

  • Too Hot to Handle (1985) (Rounder)
  • Swing (1987) (Rounder)
  • You Got Me (1988) (Rounder)
  • Rockin’ Blues (1988) (Rounder)
  • Duke Robillard & the Pleasure Kings (1990) (Rounder)
  • After Hours Swing Session (1992) (Rounder)
  • Turn it Around (1991) (Rounder)
  • Temptation (1994) (Point Blank)
  • Duke’s Blues (1996) (Virgin)
  • Dangerous Place (1997) (Point Blank)
  • Stretchin’ Out (1998) (Stony Plain)
  • New Blues for Modern Man (1999) (Shanachie)
  • Conversations in Swing Guitar (Stony Plain, 1999)
  • Explorer (2000) (Shanachie)
  • La Palette Bleu (2001)
  • Living with the Blues (2002) (Stony Plain)
  • Exalted Lover (2003) (Stony Plain)
  • More Conversations in Swing Guitar (2003) (Stony Plain)
  • Blue Mood..The Songs of T-Bone Walker (2004) (Stony Plain)
  • The Duke Meets the Earl (2005) (Stony Plain)
  • Guitar Groove-a-Rama (2006) (Stony Plain)
  • Duke Robillard’s World of Blues (2007) (Stony Plain)
  • A Swingin’ Session with Duke Robillard (Stony Plain, 2008)
  • Stomp! The Blues Tonight (2009) (Stony Plain)
  • Passport to the Blues (2010) (Stony Plain)
  • Wobble Walkin    (2011) (Blue Duchess)
  • Low Down and Tore Up (2011) (Stony Plain)
  • Independently Blue (2013) (Stony Plain)
  • Calling All Blues (2014) (Stony Plain)
  • The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard (2015) (Stony Plain)
  • Blues Full Circle (2016) (Stony Plain)
  • Duke Robillard & His Dames of Rhythm (2017) (M.C.Records)
  • Ear Worms (2019)  (Stony Plain)

With Roomful of Blues

  • Roomful of Blues (1978)
  • Let’s Have a Party (1979)
  • Swingin and Jumpin (1999)

With The Fabulous Thunderbirds

  • Powerful Stuff, (1989)
  • Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk (1991)
  • Wrap It Up (1993)

With New Guitar Summit

  • New Guitar Summit  (2004)  (Stony Plain)
  • Live at the Stoneheim Theater (2004)
  • Shivers  (2009) (Stony Plain)

As sideman or guest

With Al Basile

  • Blue Ink (2004)
  • Down on Providence Plantation (2005)
  • Groovin’ in the Mood (2006)
  • The Tinge (2008)
  • Soul Blue (2009)
  • The Goods (2010)
  • At Home Next Door (2012)

With Joe Beard

  • For Real ( (1998) (AudioQuest) 
  • Dealin  (2000) (AudioQuest) 

With Gerry Beaudoin

  • Minor Swing (1994)
  • Swing Cafe (2005)

With Eddy Clearwater

  • Cool Blues (1998)
  • Reservation Blues (2000)

With Al Copley

  • Royal Blue (1991)
  • Good Understanding (1994)

With Ronnie Earl

  • Soul Searchin’ (1988)
  • Test of Time(1992)

With Sax Gordon

  • Have Horn, Will Travel (1998)
  • You Knock Me Out (2000)

With Scott Hamilton

  • Blues Bop & Ballads (1999)
  • Across the Tracks (2008)

With Jay McShann

  • Hootie’s Jumpin’ Blues, (1997)
  • Still Jumpin’ the Blues (1999)
  • Goin’ to Kansas City (2003)

With Jerry Portnoy

  • Poison Kisses (1991)
  • Home Run Hitter (1995)
  • Down in the Mood Room (2002)

With Jimmy Witherspoon

  • Spoon’s Blues (1995)
  • Jimmy Witherspoon with the Duke Robillard Band (2000)

With Others

  • Too Cool to Move, Snooky Pryor (1992) (Antones)
  • Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie, Pinetop Perkins (1992) (Antones)
  • Toolin’ Around Arlen Roth (1993) (Blue Plate)
  • Married to the Blues, Mark Hummel (1995) (Flying Fish)
  • Found True Love, John Hammond (1996) (Point Blank)
  • Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan (1997) (Columbia)
  • Wiggle Outta This, Curtis Salgado (1999)
  • The Blues Keep Me Holding On, Savoy Brown (1999)
  • Good Day for the Blues, Ruth Brown (1999)
  • West Coast House Party, Kid Ramos (2000)
  • Three Feet Off the Ground, Bruce Katz (2000)
  • Memphis, Tennessee, Rosco Gordon (2000)
  • Love the Game, Debbie Davies (2001)
  • Boogie ‘n’ Shuffle, Billy Boy Arnold (2001)
  • Guitar, Jimmy Thackery (2003)
  • Blues in My Heart, Chris Flory (2003)
  • Introducting Sunny and Her Joy Boys (2009)
  • Between a Rock and the Blues, Joe Louis Walker (2009)
  • Porchlight, Todd Sharpville (2010)
  • Tales from the Tiki Lounge with Sunny Crownover (2010)

Help support MMONE

Purchases made on Amazon.com help to support MMONE's effort to celebrate New England's rich musical heritage. Learn about more ways to support us here.