The Unsung Horns: Dick Cuthell

Horn player and record producer, Dick Cuthell, discusses the instruments that have influenced his life in music 

When I was a kid, I was left some money in a will by some old ladies from church and bought a trumpet but, eventually, I thought: ‘I’m fed up of this trumpet. It’s too sharp, too brash’, so I got rid of it. I couldn’t afford the trumpet that I really wanted, but then I fell in love with a flugelhorn, a beautiful French one, and I didn’t bother with the trumpet anymore.

Eventually, it got trashed when I was touring with The Specials in Japan and the crowd rushed the stage. People let off fire extinguishers and we were choking, coughing our guts up. Afterwards, I remember the stage manager taking me backstage where my horn was lying in pieces under a blanket like a dead body. In 1970 musicians started asking me for more of a bright brass sound [on their records]; I went out and bought this Vincent Bach Stradivarius cornet. I’ve played this on lots and lots of stuff: Eurythmics, Madness and The Specials – this is ‘Ghost Town’, right here.

This cornet sounds totally different; it has got character to it, with it being old. It’s not really perfect, like the intonation is with new instruments, so you know, it might sound a bit wonky here and there. But that’s the instrument.

Dick Cuthell is a British horn player and record producer who has worked with The Specials, Bob Marley and Rico Rodriguez. This article is taken from PORT issue 19, out now

Photography Michael Bodiam
Set Design Imogen Frost