don duke dixon aspen bartender

Celebrities “Starstruck” by Aspen’s Late Don “Duke” Dixon

Don “Duke” Dixon was an Aspen fixture until his death on April 28 at the age of 75. His friends and fans remember him as a man who told it like it was, drawing in celebrities who visited the popular vacation destination. Kimberly Wilson-Jarrell, a close friend of Dixon, stated that “He was the life of the party, let’s just say…He had an appeal for these stars. He was still the Duke. He wasn’t trying to suck up to them.” Some of Dixon’s close celebrity friends included Jack Nicholson, Ed Bradley, Jimmy Buffet and Don Henley.

Bob Rafelson, a close friend of Dixon’s, stated that celebrities were drawn to Dixon because of his intellect and that he was devoid of any pretense. According to Rafelson, “…when people came to Aspen they sought out guys who knew their way around, and they sought out people who had incredible personalities, and Duke was one of those people…But he himself was more celebrity than they were…He didn’t call attention to his leadership, he didn’t say, ‘Guys, follow me.’ He was a guy who exercised taste and had this sinister sense of humor.”

Others remember him as one of Aspen’s worst bartenders. He famously slung drinks at several Aspen haunts through the 1970s and 1980s. However, his service was slow, mostly because he was usually drinking with the customers. According to Rafelson, “He worked at a lot of places, but that wasn’t because he had some extraordinary ability…” He drew crowds.

Dixon would also famously start up his extremely loud, muffler-less Harley Davidson motorcycle at 2 am and drive it up and down the streets of downtown Aspen to let everyone know the bars were closing. Dixon was also known as a big hit with the ladies and a lover and defender of animals. He was also a prolific writer who was constantly featured in the local Aspen newspapers. Dixon’s famous wit was constantly shared in his letters to the Aspen newspapers, earning him the Silver Pen Award in 2007.

According to the many friends and fans he left behind, Dixon “will be missed…He really loved Aspen.”