Booker T. & the MGs bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn dies at 70

Mon May 14, 2012 5:30am EDT
 
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, a member of Booker T. & the MGs whose thick bottom grooves anchored many of the classic soul hits from the 1960s, has died on tour in Japan, his friend and bandmate Steve Cropper said on Sunday. Dunn was 70.

Dunn, an integral part of the Memphis soul sound as bassist for the MGs, the house band for Stax and Volt records, died Sunday morning after finishing two shows at the Blue Note Night Club in Tokyo, Cropper said in a posting on his Facebook page.

"Today I lost my best friend, the world has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live," Cropper said.

Cropper, who also performed with Dunn on television and in the movies as part of the MGs-inspired Blues Brothers tribute band, said Dunn had died in his sleep, but he gave no other details about the circumstances.

The signature instrumental grooves of Booker T. & the MGs, grounded by Dunn's heavy bass notes, provided the musical bedrock on hundreds of singles for such soul stars as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and Sam & Dave.

From Redding's wistful "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" to Picket's raucous "In the Midnight Hour," the band's lean, tight accompaniment carried the vocals.

The group, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, also cut 10 albums and charted 14 hits of their own, including "Hip Hug-Her," "Groovin'," "Soul-Limbo," "Hang 'em High" and "Time Is Right."

The first and biggest instrumental hit of the MGs (an abbreviation for "Memphis Group") was recorded in 1962 before Dunn joined - "Green Onions," a 12-bar blues composition that has become a staple for aspiring rockers ever since.   Continued...