This weekend we learned of the passing of one of the most influential bassists of the electric era – Donald “Duck” Dunn. He was 70 years old and ‘died in his sleep’ according to long-time collaborator guitarist Steve Cropper. The pair were touring and had just played two sets at the Blue Note in Tokyo earlier that night.
Here is more information:
Dunn is perhaps best known as the bassist for Booker T. & The MGs, the highly influential house band for Stax Records that set the tone for modern Southern soul music. Dunn was invited to join the band in 1964 by Cropper, who he met in high-school, backing everyone from Sam & Dave to Otis Redding before the band split up in 1971.
Dunn would continue working as a session musician, backing musical legends like Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Jerry Lee Lewis during the course of his career.
Perhaps his most famous post-MGs work came as a member of the Blues Brothers’ backing band, alongside his old friend, Steve Cropper. The Dan Aykroyd- and John Belushi-fronted group would record Briefcase Full of Blues in 1978, with the Blues Brothers movie following two years later.
Dunn was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with Booker T. & The MGs in 1992.
He is also well know for his contributions to Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” and Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.”
To celebrate his life, here are a few video clips:
First, here is Booker T & The MGs playing the classic ‘Green Onions’:
Here is a classic clip of him with the Blues Brothers from Saturday Night Live in 1978:
Here is a clip from their final US performance in Texas just a couple of weeks ago:
Another legend has passed, but his legacy will remain through his music and widespread influence.