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Not a happy note -- Memphis Bass Player Donald "Duck" Dunn Passes

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One of my favorite cuts from the "Blues Brothers" movie is this one:

I know, the emphisis is on Jake, Elweed and Ray Charles, but listen to the bass line. That's Donald "Duck" Dunn, part of one of the tightest back up bands, Booker T. And The MG's, that ever exsisted, and a major player on every major hit that came out of Stax/Volt in the 60's. Alas, Dunn passed away Saturday night in Tokyo at the age of 70.

Dunn, and his boyhood friend Cropper joined the Memphis soul soup in the late 50's as members of The Mar-Keys, Stax's original backing band, the sound behind Rufus and Carla Thomas among others, capping it off with their own 1961 hit, "Last Night".

That was a heck of a band, with not only Cropper and Dunn, but Wayne Jackson on trumpet, who went on to form "The Memphis Horns" with sax man Andrew Love (who passed away in early April) who became the go to session horn section.

But I digress. In '62....after "Green Onions", Cropper and Dunn joined Booker T. Jones' group, The M.G.'s and besides hits like "Hip-Hug-Her", "Hang 'Em High" and this little gem.


Dunn's position at Stax was like that of James Jammerson at Motown, the go to guy when you needed a solid foundation to a song. As a solo, and with the M.G.'s, Dunn backed records by Otis Redding, Albert AND Freddie King, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, and pretty much everyone (or at least everyone who didn't use The Bar-Kays for backup) who passed through the Stax-Volt studios between 1963 and when the studio went under in 1975. It's Booker T. and the M.G.'s here backing Albert King on what has become a blues classic.....

With the breakup of the M.G.'s in the mid 70's, Dunn went on to do a ton of studio and touring work, working with Clapton, Rod Stewart, Muddy Waters, Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty....that's Dunn's bass on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", and Levon Helm's "RSO All-Stars". And do I have to mention "The Blues Brothers"?

Dunn was semi retired, but still did occasional tours and backup work. Guess who's setting the foundation here?

Yes, that's Dunn, Cropper and Jones behind that front line.

Dunn was on a tour in Japan with Cropper and Eddie Floyd, when he died in his sleep on Friday night. I've said without the guys sitting behind them, the stars would be nothing. Dunn was one of THE guys.