The legendary bassist Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn has died at the age of 70. As a member of the Stax Records house band in the 1960s, Dunn laid down the bass line for some of the greatest songs of the era, including Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour,” Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” and Albert King’s “Born Under a Bad Sign.” He and other members of the Stax band recorded a series of classic instrumentals under the name Booker T. and the MG’s. The video above features Dunn and his bandmates–guitarist Steve Cropper, drummer Al Jackson, Jr., and keyboardist Booker T. Jones–performing “Green Onions,” though that particular song was first recorded before Dunn joined the band.
Dunn died while on a Stax music tour of Japan with Cropper and Eddie Floyd. Cropper, who grew up with Dunn in Memphis, broke the news on his Facebook page. “Today I lost my best friend, the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live,” wrote Cropper. “Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo Japan after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club.” No cause of death has been announced.
Expressions of sympathy and grief have been spreading across the Internet. “I can’t imagine not being able to hear Duck laugh and curse,” wrote Booker T. Jones on his Web site, “but I’m thankful I got to spend time and make music with him.” On Twitter, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea wrote, “What a deep pocket that dude had, so glad I got to see him play, beautiful bass player we’ll be listening to forever.” And former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who had been in daily e-mail contact with Dunn up until the day before he died, paid tribute to his friend by posting a video on his Web site showing Dunn performing “Try a Little Tenderness” with Otis Redding on the 1967 Stax European tour. You can see it below.