NEW YORK – Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs and contributed to such classics as “In the Midnight Hour,” “Hold On I’m Coming” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” died Sunday at 70.
Dunn, whose legacy as one of the most respected session musicians in the business also included work with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers as well as with Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, died while on tour in Tokyo.
News of his death was posted on the Facebook site of his friend and fellow musician Steve Cropper, who was on the same tour. Cropper said Dunn died in his sleep.
“Today I lost my best friend, the World has lost the best guy and bass player to ever live,” Cropper wrote on Twitter.
Dunn was born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1941, and according to the biography on his official website, was nicknamed for the cartoon character by his father.
By the time Dunn was in high school, he was in a band with Cropper.
Cropper left to 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, Isaac Hayes and the Staples Singers.
Dunn soon followed Cropper and joined the Stax house band, also known as Booker T. and the MGs.
It was one of the first racially integrated soul groups, and was later inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Dunn received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2007. He is survived by his wife, June; a son, Jeff; and a grandchild, Michael.