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When John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd decided to turn the Blues Brothers into a real band, they went to current Letterman sidekick and then SNL piano player Paul Shaffer for advice on who to hire. One of the first musicians he suggested was Donald “Duck” Dunn. He’d played on scores of Stax Records hits like “Hold On, I’m Coming”, “Respect” and “Born Under A Bad Sign”. He was a member of Booker T and the MGs and was widely considered one of the best session bassists in the world. Shaffer thought his presence, along with other greats like Steve Cropper, Matt Murphy and Willie “Too Big” Hall, would instill an aura of legitimacy and respect. He was right.
Throughout his career, Dunn was known as something of a ringer in the music industry. If a great bassist was needed to finish a track or contribute something original in the studio, he was always a prime candidate. Bob Dylan, CCR, Tom Petty, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis and dozens more turned to the Duck during their times of need. Many even later brought him on tour. He was as reliable as they came, and he will be missed.
According to CBC, Dunn passed away in his sleep while in Tokyo for a series of gigs this weekend. He was seventy years old, and by all accounts, went peacefully. No drama, no waves, just an exit every bit as smooth as one of his basslines.
Pop Blend’s thoughts go out to Dunn’s family, as well as all of the musicians who had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him during his long career. His legacy will live on through hundreds of memorable and lasting songs.