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Friends, musicians ‘deeply saddened’ by death of Indianapolis honky-tonk owner

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The owner of Indianapolis honky-tonk Duke’s Indy, Dustin Boyer, was known for putting Indiana on the map for country music.

Before the 40-year-old’s death on Friday, Boyer poured his heart and soul into his bar. Inside the honky-tonk is where he made his mark on Indianapolis and on every person who walked through the doors.

Friends and musicians are remembering the honest, humble and good-time guy who had a passion for “real” country music. A fundraiser for Boyer’s family will be Friday night at Duke’s, but it was already a sold-out show by Monday night.

Boyer created a venue that truly meant something to country music lovers and independent country music artists. He had a passion for taking a chance on people he believed in.

(Photo Provided/Indianapolis Monthly)

Musician Cody Ikerd of Bedford said, “You kind of get some lip from some owners, but Dustin was never one of those guys. He always treated everybody with respect and always sat around and cut up and gave us beer when we needed it and kept us happy pretty much.”

Boyer put everything he had into Duke’s and created an environment that reflected the guy behind the bar, welcoming, fun loving, and as real as the country music on stage.

“He maintained musical integrity for country music as well,” said the musician with the group Cody Ikerd and the Sidewiders.

While Duke’s was a huge part of Boyer’s life, “He gave a home for all independent country music artists from all over the place,” Ikerd said.

His family and friends are remembering the man who had dreams and adventures beyond the bar.

(Photo Provided/Duke’s Indy)

“His love for cooking and his love for life. We were going to go hit the road and go boot shopping in Texas,” said Casey Sexton, Boyer’s friend.

Boyer was thoughtful. He would send Sexton postcards across the country to her home in California, mementos that she is cherishing now.

“He would just go into any shop and would love to just drop notes and he was always thinking of everybody, not just me,” Sexton said.

His friends describe him as being full of life. Despite finding success in his career, Boyer was humble.

(Photo Provided/Duke’s Indy)

“If he was your friend, you knew it, and the only thing that has been getting me through this is that we just always told each other we loved each other and it is just so important,” Sexton said.

“What a fun guy. I am just going to miss him forever. He is just a really really beautiful human being,” Sexton said.

“The Duke’s Indy family is deeply saddened of the loss of our beloved leader, Dustin Boyer. Dustin played a huge role in bringing honky-tonk a place to call home in Indianapolis and the Midwest. He touched the lives of many. His legacy will live on at Duke’s. More details to be announced by Duke’s. He will truly be missed by all.”

Duke’s Indy

As of March 5, 2022, the Marion County Coroner’s Office has not publicly announced Boyer’s cause of death despite requests from News 8 for the information.