Sunday 13 May 2012

Donald "Duck" Dunn: 1941-2012

Donald “Duck” Dunn passed away Sunday morning at the age of 70. He played on hundreds of rock and soul classics as the bassist for Booker T. and the MGs, and later as a session player. 
Born in Memphis in November 24, 1941, Dunn started playing bass at the age of 16. “I tried the guitar but it had two strings too many,” he wrote on his website. “It was just too complicated, man! Plus, I grew up with Steve Cropper. There were so many good guitar players another one wasn’t needed. What was needed was a bass.”

Cropper and Dunn soon formed a band, The Royal Spades, which grew into the Mar-Keys. The mother of the band’s saxophone player, Charles “Packy” Axton, was Estelle Axton, who owned the fledgling Satellite Record label. Shortly after their song ‘Last Night’ became a national hit, the label changed its name to Stax.

In 1964, Cropper convinced Dunn to join Booker T. and the MGs after original bassist Lewie Steinberg departed. As the house band for Stax, they provided the music for some of the greatest southern soul music ever recorded. Virtually every song recorded by Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Albert King, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Rufus Thomas and many others for Stax bears their distinct groove, with Dunn holding down the low end.

After Booker T. and the MGs disbanded in 1971, Dunn became a highly sought-after session bassist who appeared on records by Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bill Withers, Muddy Waters, Neil Young and many others. A discography, which probably isn’t complete, is on his website. Movie lovers were able to put the face to the sound when he appeared as himself in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.

As a member of Booker T. and the MGs, Dunn was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy award in 2007. 


Malcolm said...

Spooky. Was listening to BT&MG all afternoon.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the tribute, Henry, all I knew him from was Blues Brothers, but I knew if he was on there he had to be a great musician.