Donald 'Duck' Dunn: A Tribute

by Emma Bell

Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, renowned Stax bassist, has died in Japan aged 70.

Born in Memphis in 1941, Donald was nicknamed Duck by his dad when they were watching cartoons together. He found early work as a session musician at the famous Stax studios. In the 1960s, Dunn became a member of legendary soul band Booker T and the MGs (see video above), which was revolutionary in that it was one of the first interracial soul groups to be created.

Donald played on some of the influential and downright brilliant records ever committed to vinyl. He was a session musician for Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, the Staples Singers, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Eddie Floyd and Wilson Pickett, contributing churning bass lines to such classics as "In the Midnight Hour," "Hold On, I’m Coming" and "(Sitting on the) Dock of the Bay." Dunn also played for Elvis when Elvis recorded his only album at Stax.

Image source:
Dunn, instantly recognisable by his ginger Afro and pipe permanently in his mouth,  found fame in the 1980s when he played himself in the movie The Blues Brothers (see video below), an affectionate pastiche which reinvigorated interest in classic R and B Soul.  

He was one of the most respected session musicians in the business, playing for Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Levon Helm (see His work was recognised when, along with Booker T and the rest of the MGs, Dunn was inducted into the RocknRoll Hall of Fame in the 1990s.

They actually really don't make bands like that anymore.



  1. Truly a legend, and enjoyed the link to The Blues Brothers (didn't know about the connection) one of my all time fave films. If only there was a school's version, what a great PGS musical that would be. I live in hope!

    Mr L


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