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Soul bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn dies

2012-05-14 12:13
donald dunn

Tokyo - Grammy-winning American bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, who helped shape the blues and soul music scenes in the 1960s and 1970s, died on Sunday in Tokyo. He was 70.

A former member of legendary band Booker T and the MG's, Dunn died in his sleep in a hotel room in the Japanese capital after performing two shows at Blue Note Tokyo, according to a Facebook entry of friend and fellow band member Steve Cropper.

A house bass player at the Stax label in Memphis, Dunn's fingers worked the frets on a number of classics, including Otis Redding's Respect and Wilson Pickett's In the Midnight Hour.

As well as playing sessions with names like Neil Young, Eric Clapton and Jerry Lee Lewis, Dunn earned himself a little Hollywood glitter when he appeared as himself in The Blues Brothers starring comedians John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

'A hit a day'

"Today I lost my best friend, the world has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live," Cropper said in a brief Facebook message posted on Sunday.

"Duck Dunn died in his sleep Sunday morning May 13 in Tokyo, Japan, after finishing 2 shows at the Blue Note Night Club," he said.

The prestigious jazz club said in a separate message: "Our deepest condolences go out to his family and his fellow musicians who have known and played with him over the years."

Born in 1941 in Memphis, Dunn picked up the ukulele when he was around 10 years old, and moved on to the bass at 16, according to his official website.

"I tried the guitar but it had two strings too many. It was just too complicated, man!" he said.

"Plus, I grew up with Steve Cropper. There were so many good guitar players another one wasn't needed. What was needed was a bass."

He formed a band with Cropper, who later became a full-time session player at the Stax studio in the Tennessee capital - a role Dunn followed.

"Man, we were recording almost a hit a day for a while there," he later said.

'Smiling down on all of us'

In 1964 he joined Booker T and the MG's, fronted by organ player Booker T Jones, who had already enjoyed electrifying successes with tracks including Green Onions.

In a message on his website, Jones expressed his sadness over Dunn's death, saying the loss marked the passing of another of the legendary artists who had helped shape the music of the 1960s and 1970s.

"God is calling names in the music world. He gave us these treasures and now he is taking them back," Jones said.

"I can't imagine not being able to hear Duck laugh and curse, but I'm thankful I got to spend time and make music with him," he said.

"His intensity was incomparable. Everyone loved him. None more than Otis Redding."

"Thank you all for your prayers and condolences, and just know that Duck is somewhere smiling down on all of us saying, 'Got Damn!!!'" Jones said.

Read more on:    celebrity deaths  |  music

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