Booker T. & The MGs Bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn Dead at 70

May 14th, 2012

By Josh Hart

Sunday morning, May 13, influential bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn died while on tour in Japan. He was 70.

His bandmate and friend Steve Cropper — who was on tour with Dunn at the time — broke the news of his passing via Facebook, writing, “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.”

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.

  • Fred Bluhm

    All of us who played the bass, whether it be for fun or for a living, will miss our friend “Duck.” he was a great inspiration to us all, and the reason many took up plying the bass. You’ll be missed, Donald, but I’m sure John’s glad to have you back in the band.