Page last updated at 13:58 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Duke makes history on a coin

Duke Ellington and the coin bearing his image
Duke Ellington died in 1974 at the age of 75

Musician Duke Ellington has become the first black American to feature prominently on a US coin.

The jazz composer and performer will be pictured seated at the piano on the 25 cent piece.

The coin is one of a series showing America's states. Ellington's coin represents the District of Columbia where was born.

African Americans have featured on commemorative coins but Ellington's quarter will be in everyday use.

Duke Ellington recorded more than 3,000 songs in his lifetime. In the early 20th Century he made his hometown of Washington DC a top destination for jazz, along with talents like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald.

The director of the US Mint, Ed Moy, said Duke Ellington was an inspirational figure to have on a coin as he "was equal parts talent, hard work, passion and perseverance".

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