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Vernon Reid Remembers Cornell Dupree

One influential guitarist on another

Cornell Dupree
Guitarist Vernon Reid

To me, the legendary guitarist Cornell Dupree, who was equally at home with R&B, jazz, rock and pop, embodied not only the pinnacle of professionalism and musical integrity; more than that, he totally personified the cool essence of soul music itself. Cornell enhanced the music of an astounding cross section of some of the most important artists at the heart of 20th-century American music.

I love the unapologetic blues tone he successfully piloted through tremendously sophisticated arrangements; in other words, Cornell’s Fort Worth, Texas, roots always showed through. Whether with Aretha or Miles, King Curtis, Paul Simon, Donny Hathaway or Bill Withers, Cornell Dupree brought his knowledge and love of blues to literally thousands of songs. I’m fascinated at how perfectly behind the beat Cornell’s phrasing was, and the way he wrung out every tone he needed from his guitar and Fender Twin amp with his hands alone, clean and straight up. No fuzz box needed.

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