Donald “Duck” Dunn, the legendary bassist for Booker T. and the MGs, has passed away over the weekend at the age of 70. Friend and fellow guitar player of the group, Steve Cropper, posted a message saying that he died in his sleep after playing some shows in Japan, but a specific cause was not given.
Posting a message on his Facebook page last night he said:
“Today I lost my best friend, the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live. Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo Japan after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club.”
Born in Memphis in 1941, Dunn learnt to play the bass at 16 years of age, claiming that the guitar just had too many strings for him, and growing up with Cropper who was a fantastic guitar player meant that he felt the bass was more his calling.
By 1965, he’d joined Cropper, Al Jackson, and Booker T. Jones to become the bassist for Booker T. & the MGs, in addition to backing records by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, the Staple Singers, and the band’s instrumentals like Soul Limbo and Time is Tight. 1970 saw the release of McLemore Avenue, an all-instrumental album covering the Beatles’ Abbey Road.
After the band disbanded, Dunn appeared on records by the also recently deceased Levon Helm, Tom Petty, Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton. He also performed with Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Paul Shaffer, playing in the Blues Brothers band, as well as appearing in the movie.