Duke Erikson

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Duke Erikson
Garbage 10 08 2015 -47 (21445743883).jpg
Duke Erikson (right) performing with Garbage at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in October 2015
Background information
Birth nameDouglas Elwin Erickson
Born (1951-01-15) January 15, 1951 (age 68)
Lyons, Nebraska, US
Genres Rock, alternative rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, screenwriter, film producer, record producer
InstrumentsGuitar, keyboards, vocals
Years active1974–present
Labels Geffen Records
A&E Records
Atlantic Records
Associated acts Garbage
Fire Town

Douglas Elwin "Duke" Erikson (born January 15, 1951, in Nebraska) is an American musician, songwriter, screenwriter, film producer and record producer, best known as a co-founder and guitarist in the alternative rock band Garbage. Garbage has sold more than 17 million albums worldwide. [1]

Nebraska State of the United States of America

Nebraska is a state that lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. It is bordered by South Dakota to the north; Iowa to the east and Missouri to the southeast, both across the Missouri River; Kansas to the south; Colorado to the southwest; and Wyoming to the west. It is the only triply landlocked U.S. state.

Musician person who performs or composes music

A musician is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented. Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music is referred to as a musician. A musician who plays a musical instrument is also known as an instrumentalist.

A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.


Early life

Duke Erikson was born in Lyons, a small rural community in Nebraska. [2] His first musical instrument was the piano, and his second was the guitar. [3] At the age of 16 he joined his first band, The British, which was inspired by his passion for the British beat movement. [4] Erikson operated the light show for The British which was constructed out of a cigar box and door hangers. “I ran that with my left hand while I played Farfisa organ with my right,” he commented. [3]

Lyons, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Lyons is a city in Burt County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 851 in the 2010 census. The city is named after its founder.

Piano musical instrument

The piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument invented in Italy by Bartolomeo Cristofori around the year 1700, in which the strings are struck by hammers. It is played using a keyboard, which is a row of keys that the performer presses down or strikes with the fingers and thumbs of both hands to cause the hammers to strike the strings.

Guitar fretted string instrument

The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that usually has six strings. It is typically played with both hands by strumming or plucking the strings with either a guitar pick or the finger(s)/fingernails of one hand, while simultaneously fretting with the fingers of the other hand. The sound of the vibrating strings is projected either acoustically, by means of the hollow chamber of the guitar, or through an electrical amplifier and a speaker.

When Erikson completed high school, he attended Wayne State College where he studied drawing and painting, ultimately becoming a teaching assistant. [5] [3]

Secondary school building and organization where secondary education is provided

A secondary school is both an organization that provides secondary education and the building where this takes place. Some secondary schools can provide both lower secondary education and upper secondary education, but these can also be provided in separate schools, as in the American middle and high school system.

Wayne State College

Wayne State College is a four-year public college in the Nebraska State College System in Wayne, Nebraska, United States. The current enrollment is 3,571. The college opened as a State Normal School in 1910 after the State purchased the private Nebraska Normal College. The State Normal College became State Normal School and Teacher's College in 1921. This was changed to Nebraska State Teachers College at Wayne in 1949 and the present name was adopted in 1963.

Drawing visual artwork in two-dimensional medium

Drawing is a form of visual art in which a person uses various drawing instruments to mark paper or another two-dimensional medium. Instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, various kinds of paints, inked brushes, colored pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, various kinds of erasers, markers, styluses, and various metals. Digital drawing is the act of using a computer to draw. Common methods of digital drawing include a stylus or finger on a touchscreen device, stylus- or finger-to-touchpad, or in some cases, a mouse. There are many digital art programs and devices.

Musical career


Erikson formed the rock band Spooner in 1974 with two fellow musicians in Madison, Wisconsin. Erikson sang lead vocals, played keyboards and guitar, and became the band's principal songwriter, his compositions being described by City Lights as "strangely seductive" and “immediately draw[ing] in the listener”. [6] Spooner became a quartet when Butch Vig joined them on drums. [7] Spooner released two well-received albums, Every Corner Dance and The Wildest Dreams, and toured across the Midwest. [8] Rolling Stone magazine called their debut album "a convincing collection of sparkling pop music", to which "Erikson's edgy, poetic slice-of-small-town-life lyrics add a genuine, idiosyncratic touch". [9]

Spooner was a Midwestern rock band formed in 1974 in Madison, WI, by keyboardist/vocalist Doug Erikson, songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Bob Olsen, and guitarist/vocalist Dave Benton originally as an acoustic/electric trio. Between 1975 and 1978, the group had undergone several line-up changes, including adding Butch Vig as a drummer. Extremely popular in Madison, and able to draw in crowds in other Midwestern cities, Spooner released two well-received albums, Every Corner Dance and The Wildest Dreams and toured intensively throughout the Midwest to promote them.

Madison, Wisconsin Capital of Wisconsin

Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2017, Madison's estimated population of 258,054 made it the second-largest city in Wisconsin by population, after Milwaukee, and the 82nd-largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the Madison Metropolitan Area which includes Dane County and neighboring Iowa, Green, and Columbia counties for a population of 654,230.

Butch Vig American musician and record producer

Bryan David "Butch" Vig, nicknamed the Nevermind Man, is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the drummer and co-producer of the alternative rock band Garbage and the producer of diamond-selling album Nevermind by Nirvana.

In 1983, Erikson helped Vig and Steve Marker establish Smart Studios in Madison, where he helped to design the studio interior and where he has carried out engineering, production and remixing work for a series of local and international rock artists. [10] [11]

Steve Marker American musician

Steve Marker is an American musician, songwriter, and record producer, best known as a cofounder and guitarist in the alternative rock band Garbage.

Smart Studios

Smart Studios was a recording studio located in Madison, Wisconsin. It was set up in 1983 by Butch Vig and Steve Marker to produce local bands. The studio produced bands such as Killdozer, The Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Tad Juster, and Nirvana. After initial production and remix successes, the building became the focus of operations for Vig and Marker's own group, Garbage, who released their debut album in 1995.

Audio engineer engineer who operates recording, mixing, sound reproduction equipment

An audio engineer helps to produce a recording or a live performance, balancing and adjusting sound sources using equalization and audio effects, mixing, reproduction, and reinforcement of sound. Audio engineers work on the "...technical aspect of recording—the placing of microphones, pre-amp knobs, the setting of levels. The physical recording of any project is done by an engineer ... the nuts and bolts." It's a creative hobby and profession where musical instruments and technology are used to produce sound for film, radio, television, music, and video games. Audio engineers also set up, sound check and do live sound mixing using a mixing console and a sound reinforcement system for music concerts, theatre, sports games and corporate events.


In 1986, Erikson collaborated again with Vig to form the garage-rock band Fire Town, in which he played guitar and contributed vocals. [12] The band released two albums, In the Heart of the Heart Country and The Good Life, the latter on Atlantic Records. [13] Rolling Stone praised their debut as "a striking, thoughtful album" with "killer harmonies". [14]

Garage rock is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada, and has experienced various revivals since then. The style is characterized by basic chord structures played on electric guitars and other instruments, sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as often unsophisticated and occasionally aggressive lyrics and delivery. Its name derives from the perception that groups were often made up of young amateurs who rehearsed in the family garage, although many were professional.

Fire Town was a garage-rock band formed in the mid-1980s in Madison, Wisconsin, from the remnants of an earlier popular local group, Spooner. Fire Town were signed to a major label and published two albums, In the Heart of the Heart Country and The Good Life. Fire Town separated in 1989 as the members' production commitments grew.

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, gazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

While Fire Town had disbanded by 1989, [12] Spooner had an unexpected late resurgence: their single "Mean Old World" became a hit, prompting them to re-form, make a new album – The Fugitive Dance – and embark on a tour before they disbanded in 1993. [13]


Garbage in concert May 2012, with Erikson on the right GarbageLiveMay2012.jpg
Garbage in concert May 2012, with Erikson on the right

After Marker saw singer Shirley Manson performing with her band Angelfish on MTV's 120 Minutes in 1994, he persuaded Erikson and Vig that they should audition her for their new band, which became Garbage. [15] Erikson co-wrote the band's six albums, contributing guitar, keyboards, and bass. [16] The albums have sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. [1]

In a major feature on the band for The Sunday Times in 1998, the British journalist Tony Barrell described Erikson's persona in Garbage as "the cool dude with the goatee and the Mr Spockish demeanour". [17] Though sometimes a taciturn presence in the band, Erikson has been known to contribute an air of dry humour to media interviews. During a discussion in 1996 about the interpersonal chemistry within Garbage, he deadpanned: "We have a little room where we go and cry." [18]

Erikson's other projects include the production of other artists. He produced the single "If You Go" by the Greenlandic singer Simon Lynge, which received regular airplay in Britain during 2011 after being added to the BBC Radio 2 playlist. [19]

Erikson is on the board of directors of the acclaimed UK independent record label Lo-Max Records, which is home to The Wrens, The Go-Betweens, Kevin Ayers, and Simon Lynge. In 2017 he co-produced and worked extensively on sound restoration for the American Epic series as well as co-producing the music for The American Epic Sessions. [20] [21]

Erikson's daughter, Roxy Erickson, is a photographer based in London, England. [22]


Film career

In 2006 Erikson co-founded Lo-Max Films and was the co-creator, producer and co-writer of the Emmy Award nominated American Epic documentary film series. [23] [24] The films covered the first recordings of roots music in the United States during the 1920s and their cultural, social and technological impact on North America and the world. [25] The series involved ten years of field research [26] and has been sited as one of the best music documentaries ever made. [27] [28] [29] [30] [31]

Erikson co-produced and co-wrote The American Epic Sessions , an award-winning musical film, directed by Bernard MacMahon, in which an engineer restores the fabled long-lost first electrical sound recording system from 1925, and twenty contemporary artists pay tribute to the momentous machine by attempting to record songs on it for the first time in 80 years. [23] [25] [30] The film starred Steve Martin, Nas, Elton John, Alabama Shakes, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Jack White, Taj Mahal, Ana Gabriel, Pokey LaFarge, Rhiannon Giddens and Beck. [25]

In September 2017 the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools announced a nine-month preschool to high school educational program based on Erikson’s American Epic films beginning on 6 October 2017. [32] The school, founded by American educator John Dewey in 1896, has over 2,015 students enrolled in 15 grades. [33]

Erikson is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the Writers Guild of America West. He is the co-founder of Lo-Max Films, along with film director Bernard MacMahon and producer Allison McGourty. [34]

Awards and honors

Erikson’s American Epic documentary series and The American Epic Sessions have received numerous awards, including the Foxtel Audience Award at the Sydney Film Festival, [31] the Audience Award at the Calgary International Film Festival [32] and a nomination for a Primetime Emmy. [33] On April 23, 2018, the Focal International Awards nominated Erikson for Best Use of Footage in a History Feature and Best Use of Footage in a Music Production. [35]

AwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResultRef.
Calgary International Film Festival Audience Award The American Epic Sessions Won [35]
Sydney Film Festival Foxtel Audience Award American Epic Won [36]
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Music Direction The American Epic Sessions Nominated [37]
Hawaii International Film Festival Halekulani Golden Orchid Award American Epic: Out of the Many the One Nominated [38]
Tryon International Film Festival Best Documentary American Epic Won [39]
Tryon International Film Festival Best Overall Picture American Epic Won [39]
Focal International Awards Best Use of Footage in a History FeatureDuke EriksonNominated [40]
Focal International Awards Best Use of Footage in a Music ProductionDuke EriksonNominated [40]


YearFilm Writer Score Producer Appears in
2017 American Epic: The Big Bang YesYesYes
2017 American Epic: Blood and Soil YesYesYes
2017 American Epic: Out of the Many the One YesYesYes
2017 The American Epic Sessions YesYesYesYes

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