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And it doesn't get any better when you're dead!
—Duke Ellington in I Survived Jessi's Bat Mitzvah

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, (AKA "Ghost of Duke Ellington"), was a 20's composer and pianist who died in 1974. In-universe he died in Nick's house in suburban NYC and now his ghost resigns in the attic.

Biography

It should be noted that Duke Ellington's lore in Big Mouth is only loosely consistent with the life of the real Duke Ellington.

Birth

Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C. to James and Daisy Ellington. The hospital he was born in was also a cigarette factory.

Childhood

Throughout his early childhood, Edward was forced by his mother to take piano lessons. Edward would spend hours a day, learning how to play his living room piano from his piano teacher, Miss Clinkskales. Edward was clearly dissatisfied with this and spent his free time, playing baseball with his friends, Big Bowser Blakely, Crumbum Tootles, Mondee Tuesdee and the latter's dog, Half and Half. Occasionally, the gang would be visited by the former vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, who, "retired and looking for shit to do", would often ride his horse, Little Texas over to the local baseball field and watch them play.

Despite how overbearing and domineering his mother was, she truly loved him with all her heart, as seen by the constant hugs and snuggles Daisy would give to her son and it was obvious that Edward shared the feelings, by how much he enjoyed it. However, Edward may have loved his mother a little too much, as he showed some not-so-subtle hints of having a mild Oedipus complex. Edward would make suggestive comments while hugging his mom like "I wish I could go back in." In "I Survived Jessi's Bat Mitzvah", Edward admitted that he breastfed off of his mother until he was 12 years old.

Teenage Years

When Edward hit his teenage years, he naturally started going through puberty. His hormone monster was Maurice, who motivated him to jack off to magazines of scantily clad women. As an adolescent, Edward would now take a liking to girls and show a great interest in having sex. However, as the son of two domineering churchgoing helicopter parents who never let him out of their sight, this would not be an easy task.

One summer, Edward's friend, Big Bowser Blakely said that he was going to Atlantic City for vacation and said he wanted to take his friends with him. Initially, Edward's parents refused to let him go and forced him to stay in D.C. and work as a cigarette boy. However, when Edward caught his dad cheating on his wife, he used that to blackmail him into letting him go.

In Atlantic City, Edward worked as a dishwasher with his friends. Big Bowser Blakely hooked Edward up with his sister, while he went out with his sister's friend. The two went on a double date to a stage, where they watched Harvey Brooks play the piano. Edward was mesmerized by the beautiful music and became quickly inspired to pursue a career in music, himself and to boot, he also had his first kiss, while listening to that song, with his date. Edward noticed that Harvey Brooks was getting a lot of girls falling in love with him because of his music and would personally visit Harvey after the show and beg him to teach him his smooth, ladykilling ways so that he too could become a ladykilling pianist. Harvey Brooks would train Edward and learn how to play the piano, for the remainder of his vacation.

The episode "Duke", The Ghost of Duke Ellington tells the story of how he lost his virginity. Duke beats around the bush, when telling the story and mainly focuses on how he was introduced to jazz around this same time. At the end of the episode, Duke finally brings up how he lost his virginity to an unnamed girl he met on a train going from Washington to Atlantic City. The two went into the bathroom together and had sex.

In "Everybody Bleeds", The Ghost of Duke Ellington said that, while he still went by "Edward", he used to be with a girl who would have her period on a monthly schedule until one day, she stopped and told him she was pregnant. Not wanting to father the child, he fled the town and had his name changed to "Duke". As seen in the episode "Duke", Edward didn't change his name to "Duke" until he came back to Washington after his trip to Atlantic City. As mentioned before, Duke's only time having sex at the time, was with the unnamed train girl and given that Duke's story in "Everybody Bleeds" technically matches the events of "Duke". It can be implied that this train girl got pregnant when they had sex in the bathroom and Edward didn't find out until shortly before he was leaving to go home. He seized this opportunity to ditch her and change his name. Both of these things looked completely natural at the time, so Duke was never caught and nobody ever suspected a thing.

Musical Career

Duke's success as a musician saw him move to New York City with Edna and Mercer sometime in the early 1920's. Duke Ellington was based on New York City for most of his jazz career and garnered most of his fame during this time. This era of Duke's life is what many (himself included) deem him "hay day", as this was the time his career peaked.

Sometime during his career, Duke and his saxophonist, Cornell Dupree got into an argument. What they were fighting about is unclear but Duke behaved rather stubbornly during the fight, as he refused to apologize and instead awaited an apology from Cornell. Unfortunately for Duke, Cornell died from a heroin overdose and never did properly apologize to him. Duke would later feel sad about this not because he didn't get his apology but because he never apologized and they never reconciled. Duke would forever regret the fight he had with Cornell.

Marriage

In high school, Duke would find love with a girl named Edna Thompson, who he would soon marry at the ripe age of 19. Their wedding was on July 2, 1918. On March 11, 1919, they had their first and only son, Mercer Ellington.

Edna would soon leave Duke, feeling "homesick" for Washington. Duke was left to raise Marcer on his own.

According to a story told by Duke in "Ejaculation", in the year 1938, Duke Ellington went to perform at The Cotton Club. While in the bathroom there, he accidentally caught a glimpse of Charlie Parker's penis. Duke was astonished at how much bigger Parker's penis was in comparison to his own and he felt emasculated by it. To make himself feel better about his inferior penis, Duke went and got himself laid by Eva Gabor. This relationship never went anymore and was clearly meant to just be a one-night stand to help and boost Duke's confidence as well as cause a stir in the community, over the fact that a black man fucked a white woman.

In 1939, Duke left his then-19-year-old son, Mercer to live on his own, while he started dating Evie Ellis, who let him live in her house with her. Duke would often shower her with expensive gifts he bought with the money he made off of being famous. Although the two never married (and although Duke and Edna never properly divorced), they, as a couple, stuck together like glue.

Elder Years

Duke Ellington never retired and would continue to pursue his musical career until the day he died.

In 1971, Duke lived in "Guy Town", according to his lyric in the song "Guy Town" from the episode "Guy Town".

At some point in his last few years alive, Duke Ellington moved to a quaint little house somewhere in Westchester, where he spent the rest of his days.

Overall, Duke Ellington led a great and successful life, having accomplished so many things to be proud of, from his music career especially, to raising his equally great and successful son, to hooking up with his many love interests. To this day, he is seen as a pivotal figure in the history of American jazz music.

Death

In 1974, Duke Ellington died of complications from lung cancer and pneumonia. When he died, he became a ghost, stuck in between Heaven and Hell, now paying for his sins as a ghost. As a ghost, Duke mainly resigns in the attic of his aforementioned house, which has then since become vacant and has now been bought by Elliot and Diane Birch, who started a family there and are currently living in the house.

Afterlife

Duke Ellington seems to be perfectly happy with being trapped on Earth for all eternity, making a real afterlife for himself in the attic. The Birch Family is aware of Duke's death, however, only Nick seems to be aware of the existence of Duke's ghost, as he often goes up to the attic to seek Duke for advice, wisdom, and companionship. Duke and Nick are good friends and they enjoy learning about each other's lives.

Appearance

Duke Ellington is an African-American adult male with black hair, brown eyes, a mustache, and a face with very sculpted features. He wears a red jacket with a white undershirt. Currently, he is in the form of a ghost, which means that his colors are faded, he emits a glowing cyan aura, and his entire bottom half is a bright cyan ghost tail. Duke's ghost self resembles what he looked like in the prime of his life, rather than the 78-year-old man he was when he died. Duke instead is presented in the form of a man in his late 20's to his early to mid 40's.

Personality

Duke Ellington is a smooth-talking ladies' man and a zealous jazz musician. Duke spends most of his free time in The Birch Attic, making up new jazz songs, filled to the brim with heart, art, and sexual innuendo. Duke is also a very wise figure, having lived an entire very successful life. Characters such as Nick and Jay turn to him for advice, especially when it comes to girls. Duke, having been a fruitful, polyamorous stud back in his day, knows a lot about the subject of women and how to please them.

It's interesting to note that Duke's ghost self resembles the young man he was from his 20's to his 40's as opposed to his 70's when he actually died. Perhaps this is because this was Duke's "hay day" in life and he would rather spend his afterlife in that form rather than a decrepit old bag of dogshit with no social life and no friends. Notably, Duke is still courting girls such as his current love interest, Whitney Houston. He has never accompanied or even mentioned his wife, Edna Ellington, who is currently deceased and would presumably be in the form of a ghost, living with him. This is most likely because, in real life, Edna and Duke separated when the former felt nostalgic for her hometown, Washingon. That being said, this explains her absence in the series.

Despite Duke's delightful demeanor, he has expressed on a number of occasions his deep-rooted and well hidden melancholy and crushing depression when it comes to the fact that he's dead. In "Ejaculation", Duke told Nick that the new song he was making was a musical masterpiece that would never be heard by the world and then added "Death is so profoundly sad." and then chuckled happily and heartifly. In "I Survived Jessi's Bat Mitzvah", Duke Ellington capped off the song, "Life Is A Fucked Up Mess" with the lyric "And it doesn't get any better when your dead!" Once again, following this bitter line with another good-humored laugh. Deep down, Duke battles with an occasional stream of misery over his death but whenever he does, he usually shoves these feelings down and hides them behind a fake plastered smile. Sometimes, he can't bottle up his emotions anymore. In "My Furry Valentine", Duke broke down crying in the middle of the gym, moaning and griping over the convoluted love triangle he was forced into with the ghosts of Whitney Houston, Nina Simone, and Burt Reynolds and seemed especially hurt by the fact that nobody loves him.

Relationships

Family

  • Daisy Ellington - Daisy is the overbearing helicopter mother of Duke. No matter how old Duke gets, his mother still treats him like he's a baby. She snuggles and cuddles with him and gives him tons of love every day. Duke actually enjoys this very much and embraces this, loving his mother deeply and holding her in such high regard. It is possible that Duke has a mild oedipus complex for his mother, as can be implied by suggestive comments he's made, while hugging her such as "I wish I could go back in." (meaning that he desires to go back inside of her vagina) Daisy wanted Duke to be a pianist ever since he was a child and sort of forced this onto him without him having a say in it. Daisy would make Duke learn how to play the piano from his teacher, Miss Clinkskales and refuse to let him do any of the things he wanted to do, such as playing baseball with his friends. When Duke became a teenager, he outgrew hugs and snuggles and told his mom to stop, which came across as mildly disappointing to her. Upon hearing Duke's original piano song "Give Me a Slice of That Pie", she immediately slammed the piano shut on him and demanded that he stop singing such "filth" in her household as it was not the classier more orderly style of music she'd been teaching him from a young age. However, she would later come around to start appreciating her son's unique musical art style, when he did a live performance at the bar.
  • James Ellington - James is Duke's more laid-back and cool-headed father. He is a very chill guy, who doesn't seem to domineer over Duke. However, as a loyal husband, he follows suit with Daisy's rules and enforces them just as much. As James claims "What your mama says goes." However, James broke his own rules, when Duke caught him cheating on his wife and began using that to blackmail him into being more lenient and allowing him to do the things he wanted to do.
  • Edna Ellington - Edna is the wife of Duke Ellington. Their relationship is merely glanced upon in the show but if it follows the story of the marriage of their real-life counterparts, this would mean they were a high school couple, got married when Duke was only 19. The two ran away together and moved to New York and they had one son, who they named Mercer. At some point, Edna left Duke to go back to Washington, while Duke and their son, stayed in New York. The duo never properly divorced and technically stayed a couple for the rest of their lives. However, Duke would have eventually moved on from Edna and started dating Evie Ellis, a woman who would give him a longer and more committed relationship.
  • Mercer Ellington - Mercer is Duke's son. He raises his son to be just like him and play the piano. Unlike how his mom treated him, Duke allows for creative freedom and doesn't force Mercer to follow any strict set of rules for what he can do with his music.

Friends

Love Interests

Episode Appearances

Trivia

  • According to the show's lore, Duke Ellington died in what is now the home of the Birch family. In reality, Duke Ellington died at the age of 75, on May 24th, 1974 in New York City. He did not live in a suburban home, nor did he even die in his living residence. After moving to New York, Duke lived in Apartment 4A at 935, St. Nicholas Avenue, in an apartment, that is now known as The Duke Ellington House and his place of death was in The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. [1]
  • In real life, Duke Ellington had a sister named Ruth. However, in the episode "Duke", there was no appearance or mention of Duke having any siblings.
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