On the shortlist of the greatest bass players in music history, Donald "Duck" Dunn will be forever associated with the legendary Stax Records sound. Fluid, streamlined and eminently soulful, Dunn's playing anchored hits as diverse as "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," "In the Midnight Hour" and "Time Is Tight." This last number was recorded with Booker T. & the MG's, the Memphis quartet he will always be associated with.
A Memphis native, Dunn first came to fame with The Mar-Keys before he and guitarist Steve Cropper joined Booker T. & the MG's, who essentially became the Stax house band, backing Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, The Staples Singers, Carla Thomas and others. A racially integrated Southern band during the height of the Civil Rights movement, the MG's real message can still be found in their music, an organic, sweaty and live-in-the-studio sound that was sophisticated enough to get Dunn hired by jazz flutist Herbie Mann and gritty enough to have him record with blues icons such as Muddy Waters.
As the Stax label lost sway in the early '70s and mainstream R&B gave way to the more orchestral sounds of Philly soul and early disco, Duck Dunn transitioned over to playing with blues artists like Albert King and rootsy classic rockers such as Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart—all of whom worshipped at Dunn's easy-going feet.
Millions worldwide put a face to Duck Dunn's sound when he was a featured player in The Blues Brothers movie and tour, an experience he always cherished. From there, Duck Dunn would work with Bob Dylan, Neil Young and John Fogerty, as he slowly eased up on his recording schedule.
Fittingly, Donald "Duck" Dunn passed away after performing with guitarist Steve Cropper. Not only were the two members of the MG's, but they were also best friends since childhood and first picked up their instruments together. Hear some of Dunn’s greatest moments in our special memorial album collection on Google Play Music. – Nick Dedina, Google Play