Duke Henderson – biography, fact, career, awards, net worth and life story

IntroAmerican blues shouter and jazz singer
Is Singer 
Jazz musician 
From United States of America 
Type Music 
Death Los Angeles

Sylvester C. Henderson (April 5, 1925 – April 9, 1973), known as Duke Henderson, was an American blues shouter and jazz singer in the mid-1940s. His styles included West Coast blues and jump blues. In the late 1940s he renounced his past and began broadcasting as a minister and gospel DJ. He eventually became a preacher.

Music career

Apparently born in Liberty, Missouri, Henderson lived in Los Angeles, California, from the 1940s. In 1945, he made his debut recordings with the New York based Apollo label. Jack McVea recommended Henderson to the label, and he was backed on the recording dates by several notable Los Angeles session musicians. These included McVea, Wild Bill Moore and Lucky Thompson (saxophones), Gene Phillips (guitar), Shifty Henry and Charlie Mingus (bass violin), plus Lee Young and Rabon Tarrant (drums). The recordings were not a commercial success and Henderson lost his recording contract with Apollo.

In 1947, Al “Cake” Wichard recorded for Modern Records billed as the Al Wichard Sextette, and featured vocals by Henderson. Henderson subsequently recorded material for a number of labels over several years. His work was released by Globe, Down Beat, Swing Time, Specialty (“Country Girl” b/w “Lucy Brown”, October 1952), Modern, and Imperial. Henderson ended up at Flair Records, where his 1953 release, “Hey Mr. Kinsey”, was billed as recorded by Big Duke, and displayed a knowledge of the then current thinking on human sexual activity.

Later in the decade, Henderson renounced his past, and commenced broadcasting on XERB billed as Brother Henderson. His ministerial gospel DJ career there was short-lived, although the radio station was later utilised by Wolfman Jack. In the late 1950s Henderson broadcast with KPOP in Los Angeles. After his DJ career, Henderson went on to become a preacher at Bethany Apostle Community Church.

In February 1959, Billboard reported that Proverb Records was being jointly formed by Brother Henderson. By 1964 its subsidiary label, Gospel Corner, was initiated.

Henderson died in Los Angeles in 1973, though some sources state 1972.

In 1994, Delmark issued a compilation CD, containing 20 tracks from Henderson’s late 1945 Apollo recordings.

Compilation album

Album titleRecord labelYear of release
Get Your KicksDelmark Records1994