Liner Notes

In Memoriam: Duke Egbert

by Jason Warburg

duke_egbert_400Our friend and longtime Daily Vault colleague Duke Egbert is gone; his spirit departed this plane of existence last night as his body finally succumbed to complications related to the cancer that first made itself known back in 2018. He was 56.

After his initial diagnosis six years ago, Duke went through chemotherapy and other interventions that produced a remission that lasted into 2020, followed by a second, lengthier bout that eventually stabilized with treatment, gaining him two more mostly good years. Ever determined when he set his sights on a goal, Duke packed a remarkable amount into those post-diagnosis years, both creatively and personally. When he shared a couple of months ago that the cancer was on the march once again, his attitude was the same as ever—he was a person of few illusions and could be refreshingly direct.

Duke was my colleague at the Daily Vault for most of the last 26 years, my partner in managing the site for a couple of those years, and my friend for that entire span. It’s admittedly a little odd to call someone “friend” who I never met in person and only spoke to on the phone a handful of times—but we were. Our decades-long dialogue was mainly about predictable things—the music we were listening to, the recent reviews we’d enjoyed, the state of the website, and a sprinkling of family life. Among other points of connection, Duke was the biggest Alan Parsons fan I’ve ever known and loved to tease me about my aversion to sterile ’80s production (which irritates me no end and bothered him not at all).

Over the years, Duke was a steady presence on the site, prolific when the muse visited, then disappearing for weeks, months, or even years when other priorities absorbed his attention. Those priorities included his dear children and siblings, his work and writing in the field of what he described as “men's emotional literacy,” his Pagan faith, and his beloved partner and fiancée Carla.

In his chatty, witty, keenly observed reviews—415 of which were published on the Daily Vault, along with a dozen or so feature articles—Duke would regularly address the audience as “O Ye DV Faithful,” as if preaching to a congregation. In a way he was; Duke was a natural leader and teacher, matching strongly held views with a gentle manner (unless he genuinely couldn’t stand your music; then, look out).

Even as he continued writing album reviews through this January, Duke appeared remarkably clear-headed about the future. For his last feature column for the Vault back in September 2023, he took the opportunity to celebrate his 25th anniversary of writing for the site with an overview of his 25 Desert Island Discs. His decidedly eclectic selections ranged from Rush to Amanda Marshall, Peter Gabriel to Banny Manilow, and prominently featured—of course—Alan Parsons. It’s the Duke-est of columns, a kind of summing-up of a quarter-century of music writing.

In his next-to-last feature for the Vault—written over a year ago, well before the cancer had returned once again—Duke eulogized David Crosby with these prescient words:

If there’s a lesson from all this, these thoughts that chased themselves around my head last night in the darkness while I couldn’t sleep, it’s that the best goal is to try to live with no regrets. So here’s my message to all of you, DV contributors and readers alike: you will run out of time. Maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow, but some day; with that sad understanding firmly in mind, go out and do the things you always meant to do. Whether it’s seeing a musician live, telling someone you love them, or bungee-jumping, take the opportunity when it arises.

Because in the end, we will never know when our time is up.

In addition to all of the above, Duke was also a connoisseur of spirits, and while I won’t know a hundredth of what he could have told me about it, I’ll be raising a glass of the finest drink I have on hand in his honor tonight. I invite all Ye DV Faithful to do the same.

Godspeed, friend.


“Memoriam mortis amor fortior.”
(Love and memory are stronger than death.)

-- “Favorite Quote” listed on Duke’s Facebook profile

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