Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T & the MGs Bassist, Dies in Tokyo

Donald “Duck” Dunn, the legendary bass player for rock band Booker T. and the M.G.’s, died early Sunday morning while on tour in Japan. He was 70.

The SF Chronicle reports that Dunn, also session player known for working with some of the best musicians in the business, passed away after finishing two shows at Night Club in Tokyo.

News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and former MGs bandmate Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour.

“Today I lost my best friend, the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live. Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo Japan after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club.”

Born in Memphis in late November, 1941, Donald Dunn was given his Disney character nickname, “Duck,” by his father as the two watched a Donald Duck cartoon on TV.

“It was just one of those things that stuck,” Dunn wrote on his website. “Most of my school friends and even a few of my teachers called me Duck.”

Though his father urged him to steer clear of the Music industry -fearing his son would succumb to a lifestyle of drugs — Dunn would eventually leave high school become a session player at Stax, the Memphis record company that would become known for its soul recordings and artists such as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and Isaac Hayes.

In 1964, Dunn took over as bass player for Booker T & the MGs after the band’s original bassist, Lewie Steinberg. left for unknown reasons.

After the MGs split up in 1971, Dunn found work playing as a session musician, recording with Eric Clapton, Levon Helm and Bob Dylan, among others.

In 1978, Dunn and Cropper joined Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as back-up for the Blues Brothers on their album Briefcase Full of Blues and later played themselves in the duo’s movies.

In 1992, Donal Dunn was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2007 Dunn several other Booker T & the MGs members were given a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys ceremony in Los Angeles.

Dunn is survived by his wife, June; a son, Jeff; and a grandchild, Michael.

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