Cornell Dupree, a guitarist whose quietly bluesy style made him an in-demand session musician throughout the 1960s and ’70s for artists like Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and Ringo Starr, at his home in Fort Worth. He was 68.
The cause was emphysema, said David Kramer, his agent and longtime friend, who had organized a benefit concert for him in New York in March.
The average listener may not have known Mr. Dupree’s name (“Not many people read the back of albums,” he acknowledged in a 1997 interview in The Dallas Observer), but millions knew his playing. His licks are an indispensable part of a number of Ms. Franklin’s biggest hits, Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” and many other records.
By his own estimate, he played on about 2,500 sessions. Jerry Wexler, the Atlantic Records executive who produced hits for Ms. Franklin and many others, said on several occasions that he had often used three guitarists on the sessions he supervised, to get as full a sound as possible, until he realized Mr. Dupree was the only one he needed.
Though best known as a rhythm-and-blues player, accompanying performers like Wilson Pickett and B. B. King, Mr. Dupree also performed or recorded with Joe Cocker, Barbra Streisand, Laura Nyro, Bonnie Raitt and Mariah Carey, among other pop stars. He played on Mr. Simon’s 1973 hit album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon” and Mr. Starr’s R&B-influenced album “Ringo the 4th.” When Miles Davis, the great jazz trumpeter, was searching for a funkier and more contemporary sound in the early 1970s, Mr. Dupree was among the musicians he used on his album “Get Up With It.”
Mr. Dupree’s most enduring associations were with Ms. Franklin and the saxophonist King Curtis. He joined King Curtis and the Kingpins in 1962 (Jimi Hendrix was briefly in the band with him) and was still a member when Ms. Franklin hired them to accompany her on tour in 1967. King Curtis died in 1971, but Mr. Dupree remained with Ms. Franklin until 1976. Around the time he left Ms. Franklin, he and a number of other session musicians began recording and performing as a group. Known as Stuff, they made several all-instrumental albums for Warner Brothers and toured extensively.
Mr. Dupree also recorded as a bandleader; his last album, for the Austin label Dialtone, has not yet been released. Cornell Dupree Jr. was born Dec. 19, 1942, in Fort Worth, the only child of Cornell and Bernice Dupree. His first instrument was the saxophone, but he began playing guitar in his early teens.
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTDa-RqDFxM"]YouTube - BROOK BENTON '1970' - Rainy Night In Georgia[/ame]