Donald “Duck” Dunn is dead. He died yesterday while on tour in Japan with his lifetime friend, bandmate and guitarist Steve Cropper. Reportedly, he was found dead in his hotel room and it is said that he died in his sleep.
I remember when I for the first time ever saw the movie “Physical Graffiti”, there was this scene were all of a sudden this amazingly heavy tune appeared out of the blue. Back then I had no idea that his was actually “Green Onions”, the signature tune of Booker T. & MGs. I just thought to myself “Holy shit, who the hell is this?” Well, coincidentally or because of fate, a few weeks later I saw an interview with Jeff Beck where he referred to ‘Green Onions’ and how this piece had such a fundamental influence on his playing. If I recall correctly, I think he said that this was the reason why he actually picked up a guitar in the first place.
I ran from record store to record store trying to find ANY Booker T. & The MGs album, but I had no success (that was back in Germany). Finally, one guy told me that he could order a “Best Of” compilation for me. When it eventually came in a few weeks later, I listened to Green Onions over and over for many days straight. And I finally learned more about the band members. Initially, my focus was on Booker T. and Steve Cropper, but after getting more acquainted with the band’s work, the name Donald Dunn seemed to be omnipresent. It took me a while but when I later listened to my album again, it was clear that his heavy, driving and grooving bass played an absolute imperative part in Booker T. & MGs sound.
I don’t want to pretend that I know a lot about Donald “Duck” Dunn, because I don’t. But I stumbled across him every now and then on youtube or when I read a story about other musicians with whom he worked with. And there were plenty of them, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart and Jerry Lee Lewis. Donald also was in the Blues Brothers movie, playing himself.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee was 70 years old. The only thing good out of this is that he died in his sleep. Rest in Peace, Donald.