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Before Rap Rattled Your Windowpanes



It’s astonishing how many people are playing, and how quiet the whole thing is. Aretha is still fairly young here, the seventies running out of gas, this whole big-band orchestra extravaganza circling the drain already; but damn — she is entirely in control of herself, singing the way she wants to, not forcing it in any way, the material (Stevie Wonder wrote it) worthy of her effort.

Singing is athletic. I never want to see old singers perform much. They are shells of their former selves, usually, and it makes me sad to see them.

In her introduction, Aretha seemed to be laboring under the impression that the Canadian audience was going to sing along or get up and groove or form a wild, impromptu rave or something.

Man, was she lost.

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.

Tag: Atlantic Records

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