Guitar Great Cornell Dupree, Who Made Everyone Sound Better, Has Died at 69



Moments ago, an old Friend of Unfair Park sent along this obituary that appeared on Variety's website last night: Guitar great Cornell Dupree died at his Fort Worth home Sunday at the age of 69. For those unfamiliar with the name, you're certainly well-versed in his estimable body of work -- which encompasses some 2,500 pop, soul and R&B cuts, among them King Curtis and the Kingpins' immortal "Memphis Soul Stew," to which Dupree added "four level tablespoons of boilin' Memphis guitar."

Which is but the tip of the tip of the funky iceberg: As Josh Alan Friedman wrote for us in his February 1997 Dupree tell-all, there were other familiar tunes among his discography -- Brook Benton's "Rainy Night In Georgia," Aretha's "Respect," and King Curtis' "Soul Serenade" to name but the most famous. But Dupree, who was one of the nicest and most modest men you'd ever hope to encounter, thought of himself as but a footnote in the rock-and-roll-and history books. Wrote Josh:
Dupree seems casual and far removed from his history: Each record was just a matter of doing his day job, punching a clock. His house in North Richland Hills, north of Fort Worth, could be that of any ordinary manufacturer or civil service official. There's nothing to indicate that this is home sweet home for the man whose guitar graces a Yellow Pages of popular song by Aretha Franklin; King Curtis; Sam Cooke; Otis Redding; Ringo; Miles; Joe Cocker; Carly and Paul Simon; B.B., Freddie, and Ben E. King; and Big Mamas Thornton, Streisand, and Midler.

"Not many people read the backs of albums, they don't know who the hell it is," Dupree says with a shrug.
Read the whole thing here. While listening to this. This too.
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154443
154443

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Steams66389
Steams66389

I loved his playing. His style was so unique. I saw him live at Mikell's Jazz Club in NYC many years ago. I'm so glad I got to hear and see him then. Rest in Peace Brother and thanks.

kokomoization
kokomoization

i wish someone had recorded some of those mikell's gigs. that was a real musician's scene -- and there aren't many left.

John Ellis
John Ellis

Thanks for thinking of Cornell, and that's a fantastic article by Josh. Sometimes session details are not very accurate; other times session players claim credit for others' work (Carol Kaye, the great Wrecking Crew musician claims she played on many/most of the Motown hits instead of James Jamerson....don't think so Carol !?!?!?!).

Cornell played a ton of great sessions. His guitar tone was unmistakeable. Somewhat thin, totally slinky and totally funky. But my ears, and lots of other info say that Cornell did not play on Aretha's "Respect" (it was Muscle Shoals' guitarist Jimmy Johnson). Cornell started his career with Aretha when she recorded "Rock Steady". Jimmy Johnson was the guitarist on most of the other earlier Aretha hits. Joe South did the intro on "Chain Of Fools"

Cornell did play on Brook Benton's Rainy Night In Georgia" with a band called Cold Grits.

Cornell was not on King Curtis "Memphis Soul Stew" ... that was Reggie Young.

Cornell did play on King Curtis' version of "Soul Serenade", but that's very obviously Billy Butler on "Soul Twist".

But he did play on over 2,500 sessions which makes him one of most active, gifted session guitarists ever.

Pete W
Pete W

 Re "Memphis Soul Stew": was it not Reggie Young on the original Memphis-recorded version, but the late Cornell on the more celebrated version from "King Curtis Live At The Fillmore"?

kokomoization
kokomoization

a unique player with a warm, instantly recognizable, hard-to-duplicate style. some of his best work can be found on the stanley turrentine album "cherry" and joe cocker's "stingray." along with his solo album for atlantic. also tasty (as we used to say) on the champion jack dupree record "blues at montreux," with the kingpins. aretha was asked about 10 years ago why she never again used her greatest rhythm section (dupree, jemmott/rainey, purdie) and she said "who can afford those guys?!" she was just being nice -- as she probably could've guessed, cornell and the rest were essentially sitting on the couch in front of the TV just waiting for someone to remember them. dupree was also beloved in the u.k. among the white-soul guys of the '70s: neil hubbard, jim mullen (today playing straight-ahead jazz only) and the awb guys.cornell dupree -- one of the really great ones.

Josh Alan Friedman
Josh Alan Friedman

There are probably about 10 "stars" to every great sideman. That's how rare they are. As with other great sidemen from this area, like Fathead Newman or Chuck Rainey, there were almost no gigs in DFW. They had to go to NY, Europe or Japan.

John Ellis
John Ellis

Chuck Rainey's session page is very good. And accurate. Chuck Rainey - The Official Website, as is this WIkipedia page for him: Chuck Rainey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Check out Rick Suchow's page to hear incredible isolated tracks by Wilton Felder and James Jamerson among others (Paul McCartney) Rick Suchow - NYC Bassist & Writer / rare Jaco Pastorius & James Jamerson tracks - Home

That's link link...login: Then hit MUSIC, then motown bassists: isolated recorded tracks...You'll have to log in as:username: ricksuchowpassword: jamerson

THen you've got a goldmine of a ton of tracks by Jamerson and Wilton Felder. Felder wasn't really a "Funk Brother", but he did play bass on those early hits by THe Jackson 5 (I Want You Back, ABC) and Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On".)

Pat Boyack
Pat Boyack

Hey Josh, is Chuck Rainey back or is he still in Florida? I know that he would play local gigs and studio sessions around here when he was in town. He sure does have some great stories.

Pat Boyack
Pat Boyack

Cornell was one of those guitar players that has influenced many without them even knowing it. That's what great sidemen do.

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

Plus he was in a great mid-70's band called "Stuff". He was a great one.

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