Incomparable bass player Donald “Duck” Dunn died on Sunday, May 13th. His rhythmic soul was made famous through his performances with the Blues Brother’s Band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Booker T and the MGs. He died while on tour with Steve “The Colonel” Cropper of the Blues Brothers in Japan. He was 70-years-old.
Cropper reported the news of Dunn’s death on Facebook, saying that he passed in his sleep: “today I lost my best friend. The world has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live.” Miho Harasawa, a spokeswoman for Tokyo Blue Note, the last venue Dunn played, confirmed he died alone early Sunday.
As a respected session musician, Dunn performed with legendary frontmen during his day, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Wilson Pickett, Tom Petty, Elvis Presley and Neil Young. Though he was used for rock n’ roll, country and folk, his specialty was blues and soul. He contributed to the classic tracks “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, “In the Midnight Hour”, and “Hold On, I’m Coming”. Having only started playing the bass at age 16, he is now known as one of the most versatile bass players to ever live.
In 2007, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys for his work with Booker T and MGs. He is survived by his wife June, son Jeff and grandson Michael.
He played himself in the 1980 comedy The Blues Brothers. See a clip of his performance below.
Dunn’s list of people he has played with is staggering. As a highly sought after studio bassman, he collaborated with these famous musicians and more: Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Wilson Pickett, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Otis Redding, Levon Helm, Tom Petty, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Herbie Mann, Duane Allman, Eddie Floyd, , Leon Russell, Joan Baez, Manhattan Transfer, The Emotions, Leo Sayer, Diana Ross, Jimmy Buffett, John Fogerty, Yvonne Elliman, Ray Charles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Boz Scaggs, Johnnie Taylor, Mickey Thomas, Bill Withers, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, and Paul Shaffer.