Dunn played with a slew of musical icons, including Levon Helm–who also passed away this year–Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan. He grew up in a time when music was looked upon as a hobby, not an upstanding profession, and went against his father’s wishes to join a band. He ended up becoming a session player for Stax, a Memphis record company that boasted such big names of the day as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett; that house band eventually became known as Booker T and the MG’s. They were one of the first racially diverse music groups and went on to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. At Stax, Dunn worked with Otis Redding on “Respect” and “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay”, two huge hits for the company which cemented his status as a key player in the industry. They saw enormous potential for the band and kept them working as long as they could.
“I would have liked to have been on the road more, but the record company wanted us in the studio. Man, we were recording almost a hit a day for a while there,” Dunn once said.
One of Dunn’s bandmates, Steve Cropper, was on tour with him and announced the death of his friend on Facebook and Twitter:
Friends and fans offered their condolences.
RIP Donald “Duck” Dunn, bassist with Booker T & MG’s and many hits… The rhythm section in the hereafter is getting better by the day.
Rest in Peace Donald “Duck” Dunn. Superb bass player, wonderful guy. My condolences to your family and friends.
Duck Dunn was as good as any bass player I can think of. So sad that he’s gone.