Cornell Dupree

Cornell Dupree bigraphy, stories - American R&B/soul jazz guitarist

Cornell Dupree : biography

December 19, 1942 – May 8, 2011

Cornell Luther Dupree (December 19, 1942 – May 8, 2011) was an American jazz and R&B guitarist. He worked at various times with Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, King Curtis and Steve Gadd, appeared on David Letterman, – accessed May 2011 and wrote a book on soul and blues guitar: Rhythm and Blues Guitar ISBN 0-634-00149-3. He reputedly recorded on 2,500 sessions.


As leader

  • 1974: Teasin’ (Wounded Bird)
  • 1977: Saturday Night Fever (instrumental)
  • 1979: Shadow Dancing
  • 1988: Coast to Coast (Antilles Records)
  • 1991: Can’t Get Through
  • 1992: Uncle Funky (Live)
  • 1993: Child’s Play
  • 1994: Bop ‘n’ Blues (Kokopelli Records)
  • 2011: I’m Alright (Dialtone Records)

As sideman

With Charles Earland

  • The Dynamite Brothers (Prestige, 1973)

With Eddie Harris

  • Come on Down (Atlantic, 1970)
  • Second Movement (Atlantic, 1971) – with Les McCann

With Gene Harris

  • Gene Harris of the Three Sounds (Blue Note, 1972)

With Lena Horne and Gábor Szabó

  • Lena & Gabor (Skye, 1969)

With Yusef Lateef

  • Hush ‘N’ Thunder (Atlantic, 1972)

With Jack McDuff

  • A Change Is Gonna Come (Atlantic, 1966)
  • Magnetic Feel (Cadet, 1975)

With Bernard Purdie

  • Stand By Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get) (Mega, 1971)
  • Soul Is… Pretty Purdie (Flying Dutchman, 1972)

With Marlena Shaw

  • Marlena (Blue Note, 1972)
  • From the Depths of My Soul (Blue Note, 1973)

With Sonny Stitt

  • Mr. Bojangles (Cadet, 1973)

With The Nineteenth Whole

  • Smilin’

With Donny Hathaway

  • Live (Donny Hathaway album) (Atlantic, 1972)


Dupree was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, where he graduated from I.M. Terrell High School. Dupree began his career playing in the Atlantic Records studio band, recording on albums by Aretha Franklin (Aretha Live at Fillmore West) and King Curtis as a member of Curtis’s band "The King Pins" (having grown up with King Curtis in Fort Worth). He appeared on the 1969 Lena Horne and Gábor Szabó recording, and on recordings with Archie Shepp, Grover Washington, Jr., Snooky Young and Miles Davis.

He was a founding member of the band Stuff, which featured fellow guitarist Eric Gale, Richard Tee on keyboards, Steve Gadd and Chris Parker on drums, and Gordon Edwards on bass. Dupree and Tee recorded together on many occasions. Notable albums include the aforementioned Aretha and King Curtis records, plus Joe Cocker’s Stingray and Luxury You Can Afford, plus Cornell’s solo albums Teasin’, Saturday Night Fever (instrumental), Shadow Dancing, Can’t Get Through, Coast to Coast, Uncle Funky, Child’s Play, Bop ‘n’ Blues, and Unstuffed. He played on Brook Benton’s "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love", and is featured on two tracks of Peter Wolf’s 1998 album, Fool’s Parade. He is also known for playing the opening guitar riff on Aretha Franklin’s "Respect".

In December 1972, the UK music magazine, NME, reported that Dupree, along with Roberta Flack and Jerry Jemmott, had been injured in an auto accident in Manhattan.

In later years, Dupree used a Fender "red-knob" Twin Reverb and played a Yamaha signature guitar called the Dupree Super Jam (it used to be a model similar to the SJ-550 HM, but now is closer to a three-pickup Pacifica with a maple neck).

In 2009, Dupree appeared in a documentary entitled Still Bill, which chronicled the life and times of Bill Withers. He appeared on stage playing a guitar-led version of Grandma’s Hands. Bill Withers, at first, was sitting in the audience, but ended up joining him on stage to sing the lyrics to the song. In this part of the documentary, Dupree played his guitar on a stool, breathing using an oxygen machine, which foretold his suffering from emphysema.

Dupree died on May 8, 2011 at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He had been waiting for a lung transplant as a result of suffering from emphysema.