I found this man sitting on the concrete behind him. We talked for several minutes about Vietnam, then I asked if I could take his picture. At that point, he jumped up on his one leg. I asked him what his name was and he said Duke Ellington. That’s why I call this image “The Duke.”
More than one person can have the name Duke Ellington. But I got the sense that this man was putting me on. I took this shot in the summer of 1974, just a month after the great jazz composer, pianist and band leader named Duke Ellington had died. I asked this man if that was his real name. He smiled at me. That made me wonder whether the whole conversation about Vietnam had been fabricated. I smiled back, moved on, and that was the last I saw of him.