Remembering Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, the Backbone of Memphis Soul, with Grooving Video

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.

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