Failte go dtí ...        Welcome to ...

« Previous Artist

Duke Special

Next Artist »
Duke Special
Duke Special is an eccentric Belfast artist (aka Peter Wilson) 'whose bruised romanticism and soft Northern tinged vocals are at sharp juxtaposition with his wild dreadlocks, smudged eyeliner and unfeasibly wide trousers'

About Duke Special

Duke Special is the stage name of highly acclaimed Belfast artist, Pete Wilson. His music is primarily piano based, sometimes colloured with various eclectic sounds and instruments. He often gets compared (favorably) with Badly Drawn Boy.

Duke Special released 'Adventures In Gramophone', a compilation of songs from his first two EPs, 'Lucky Me' and 'My Villain Heart' in 2005. In October 2006 he released the album 'Songs from the Deep Forest'.

From Duke's MySpace page:

Using cheese graters, wardrobe doors, pianos, harps, brass, strings and an old gramophone to record the twelve-track debut, Adventures in Gramophone is truly a musical spectacular. Duke Special is one of a kind, a unique and talented young Belfast man whose bruised romanticism and soft Northern tinged vocals are at sharp juxtaposition

On stage, Duke Special explodes into musical mayhem ű the battered old trademark gramophone wheezes, huge cymbals clash, egg whisks and cheese graters break free from the kitchen, a stunt fiddle screeches and the crushed velvet covered piano thumps and tinks in unison ű but itĂs the very core of the songs, his heartfelt, passionate poems, that will remain in your head long after the lights have gone down.

"My most favourite thing was to sit in the dark, playing the piano. Music was all I wanted to do." The Duke grew up in Belfast with his mother, father and three sisters. "My sisters and I all learnt piano. It wasn't an optional activity." When they were young, the Duke and his sisters would sing traditional Irish songs in churches and community centres. "That's probably where my sense of melody comes from, from folk music, church music - music for people to sing together."

Soon he began writing his own compositions: "People always used to say that my songs sounded like something from a musical," says the Duke. "For a long time that horrified me." As a reaction, he started playing in a succession of questionable rock bands with little success. "Finally I realised that I had to do what came naturally to me. But I wanted to find a way to play the piano and sing that didn't make me sound like Elton John or Billy Joel."

The concept of musicals led him to consider a more theatrical approach. "I got really interested in vaudeville and music hall. I loved the idea of all these strange Victorian entertainments with their crazy descriptions. I recognised that spirit in what I was doing. I wanted everything to sound 'old'. But most of all I want to be entertaining÷.

Adopting the pseudonym of Duke Special, he teamed up with Hag Records and released two limited edition EPs Lucky Me and My Villain Heart. Following on from hundreds of solo dates across Ireland, the UK and Germany and tour supports with Aqualung, Rufus Wainwright, Paddy Casey and John Power of The LaĂs, the EPs have sold a staggering 6,000 copies. Meanwhile, Jack White of The White Stripes and The Hives have passed on glowing accolades for the DukeĂs recordings.

Duke Special has gradually recruited a small collective of eccentric musicians, including drummer and percussionist Chip Bailey (a clown, a juggler, a renegade Morris-man), R?a Curran on trumpet and harmonium (he has two jobs - fronting a Tom Waits tribute band and acting musical director of a puppet theatre) and Ben Hales of Aqualung on guitar and backing vocals. In some combination they are regularly to be found bringing the Duke's antique songs of confused love to life.

Download Duke Special MP3s

Download 25 FREE songs at! The emusic service offers MP3s downloads of many of the artists listed on Click the emusic image on the left to sign up for a free trail and then search emusic to see if Duke Special tracks are available on the site.


If you have any comments you would like to add about Duke Special, please enter them here:
Your Name:
Verification Code: verification code
Enter the above verification code here:
Back to list of Irish Rock Artists