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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Cornell Dupree, RIP

The Zelig of Soul Music

(That’s Cornell Dupree with Hendrix and Wilson Pickett. Think of that show. Nowadays people pay 150 bucks to go and see Charlie Sheen explain why he got fired from a sitcom)

Oh, dear. Cornell Dupree passed away. It’s OK if you have to search for the name. He’s one of those fellows that makes the world go ’round, but you rarely catch with their feet on the pedals. By his own estimate, he played on 2500 albums. Seems low to me.He had emphysema, and perished waiting for a lung transplant. The last video of him on YouTube shows him still onstage last year with an oxygen tank.

He started, more or less, here: King Curtis.

I’d be hard-pressed to name a better rhythm section than Jerry Jemmott, Bernard Purdie, and Cornell Dupree.

I like Atlantic Records stuff from the late sixties and the seventies, so Cornell Dupree is a daily staple at our house. He probably shows up at your house, too, whether you know it or not. Have you heard of any of these people?

  • Aretha Franklin
  • King Curtis
  • Donny Hathaway
  • Joe Cocker
  • Brook Benton
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Paul Simon
  • Sam Cooke
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Sam and Dave
  • Hendrix
  • Fats Domino
  • Miles Davis
  • Mariah Carey
  • Bill Withers

He opened up for the Beatles, and was in the first Saturday Night Live band. He worked.

He died three days ago at his home in Forth Worth, the city of his birth, still married after 53 years to his wife Erma, with two sons and a daughter and nine grandchildren, none farther away than Dallas. To be able to achieve so “ordinary” a family life in that business might be the most extraordinary thing about him of all. Rock steady, and missed.

6 Responses

  1. Very sad news. The Atlantic Records "house band" was tremendous. I still listen to "Teasin" about once a month. I looked in to buying a Yamaha "Super Jam" guitar so I could sound like him.

  2. I was lucky enough to get to play and record with Cornell, one of the greatest musicians and nicest person I have ever worked with. At first it was hard for me because I had learned so much of what I knew from listening and watching him play. I had to find all new licks because the guy I learned them from was sitting next to me. He always had a smile and never a negative word to say about anyone. I even smoked a pipe onstage, which led drummer Brian Brake to declare us the "matching pipes guitarists". I wish DuPree had stopped smoking his pipe when I did, perhaps he'd still be here with us. Listen up, Heaven – that man you took from us has a heart bigger than the state of Texas and more music in him than a jukebox. Treasure him because he is truly special. I miss you DuPree! Ted Perlman

  3. Hello Ted- Thank you for sharing your remembrance of your friend. He was a wonderful musician, and by all accounts a very pleasant man, too.

  4. I knew Cornell Dupree personally, though at the time I had no idea who he was. His granddaughter was my childhood best friend. She and her mother lived with he and his wife (I knew them as Honey and Gramas). I spent countless nights and weekends at their house. He was such a sweet man. I hate that one of my strongest memories of him (the way he always smelled of sweet tobacco) was his downfall. He always made me feel so welcome. I only found out years later as an adult just how influential he was in the music world. Thank you for posting this photo, I shared it with Bernice (his granddaughter) when I miraculously came across it in my Pinterest feed and she was so emotional and excited.

  5. Hi Kelli- Thanks for reading, and for offering your remembrance of Mr. Dupree. By all accounts, he was a really nice man.

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