"CHAMPION"
JACK DUPREE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOME

Born in Louisiana in 1909, Jack Dupree lost his parents in a fire when he was a young boy. On some occasions Dupree said that the fire was accidental but on others he claimed that the family was burnt out by the Ku Klux Klan. Either way he was brought up in the same Home for "coloured waifs" in New Orleans that Louis Armstrong spent his early years. As a teenager the major influence on the development of his piano playing skills was Willie Hall. When Dupree was 21 he left New Orleans for Chicago, eventually ending up in Indianapolis at aged 24 as a professional boxer, a career in which he had over 100 fights. In his early 30’s the ex-boxer returned to Chicago and made his recording debut for Lester Melrose.

However his new career was interrupted by the 2nd World War when Dupree joined the Navy. Further trauma followed and Dupree was captured and spent two years as a Japanese POW. After his release at the end of the war he went to New York where he quickly established himself as a recording artist with a range of labels. In order to increase his output, and income, he showed great enterprise by changing his name for different labels, e.g. ‘Meat Head Johnson’, ‘Lightnin’ Jr’ and ‘Brother Blues’ were some of his persona’s. Nevertheless Dupree did some of his best recording work with King Records in the early 1950’s under his real name. However what is often considered Dupree’s masterpiece is the album "Blues From The Gutter" which he recorded for Atlantic in 1958. Complaining of racial intolerance, Dupree then left America for Europe where he was to spend most of the next 30 years, rarely returning to the USA. He often appeared in England in the 1960’s, as well as Switzerland, Germany, (where he bought a house), and Italy. Dupree eventually returned to New Orleans in 1990 where he appeared at the Heritage Festival and recorded the album "Back Home In New Orleans". He died in Germany in 1992 aged 82.