Corky Cornelius

Biography by Eugene Chadbourne

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The trumpeter Corky Cornelius learned music from his father, a drummer who played in early Texas dance hall bands and used the same nickname as his son, representing either a variation on the Cornelius…
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Artist Biography by Eugene Chadbourne

The trumpeter Corky Cornelius learned music from his father, a drummer who played in early Texas dance hall bands and used the same nickname as his son, representing either a variation on the Cornelius surname or a passion for opening wine bottles. Young Edward "Corky" Cornelius was born in Hoosier country but was raised in Binghamton, New York. He sadly died of a kidney ailment before he reached his 30th birthday but managed to play on many records in a career that followed certain developments in the legacy of top concert attraction Benny Goodman.

Cornelius began performing in the '30s in ensembles led by Les Brown, Frank Dailey and Buddy Rogers. In the spring of 1939 he joined the Goodman organization which at that time had a star attraction in dynamic drummer Gene Krupa. When Krupa formed his own band in the fall of that year, Cornelius went with him, irritating Goodman. It meant joining forces with hot players such as trumpeter Shorty Sherok and saxophonist Sam Donahue but more importantly meeting singer Irene Daye. Performing on hit records including "Drum Boogie" and "Drummin' Man", Daye became one of the most popular singers in the country. In the early '40s Cornelius left Krupa to join the the Casa Loma Orchestra followed in the pop of a cork by Daye, who became the trumpeter's bride. The singer temporarily quit performing in 1943 to raise their daughter, but returned to the microphone with even greater successful following his death later that year.