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RIP mister bassman, Donald "Duck" Dunn
May 13, 2012 3:15 AM   Subscribe

Millions may know him best from one of the only lines he delivered in the Blues Brothers movie: "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline". Others who notice these things will remember him as the guy who also played the bass in the Blues Brothers band. And those for whom Stax records and the Memphis sound are important will know him as the four-string foundation of the great Booker T and the MGs, and the man who lent his solid, no-frills bass lines to many a tune by soul luminaries Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and lots of other greats. Memphis-born bassman Donald "Duck" Dunn has died while on tour (along with fellow legend and bandmate Steve Cropper) in Tokyo. RIP, Duck Dunn, and if there's any goat piss in heaven, I know you're gonna turn it into gasoline up there, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite (112 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
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One of the true great soul musicians.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:19 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


aw, shit.

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posted by peterkins at 3:33 AM on May 13, 2012


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Just read this news on Steve's Facebook page. Been a fan for like 25 years. I am extra upset because I was planning on going to that show last night, but had to cancel.
posted by donkeymon at 3:45 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by awfurby at 3:47 AM on May 13, 2012


So many great tracks to remember him by, but if I had to pick one, I'd have to go with this one in which Stax's two biggest songwriters just whack one out as a single, aided by Ike's old band-mates from studio house band, the Mar-Keys.

Aint That Lovin' You (for more reasons than one)
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posted by dabitch at 4:02 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Ghidorah at 4:03 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by gomichild at 4:03 AM on May 13, 2012


one of the great bass players of all time

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posted by pyramid termite at 4:04 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by doctor_negative at 4:07 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by DreamerFi at 4:13 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by zaelic at 4:19 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by drezdn at 4:21 AM on May 13, 2012


Damn... thank you so much for the great blues!
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posted by quazichimp at 4:29 AM on May 13, 2012


How sad. He was a fantastic bass player: Booker Loo (live, 1968)
Safe travels.
posted by elmono at 4:43 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good men are droppin' like flies.

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posted by Kinbote at 4:44 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:54 AM on May 13, 2012


While not as famous as his other stuff, this performance with him, Steve Cropper and Joe Walsh absolutely destroying Funk 49 is one of my fondest memories of the guy.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:00 AM on May 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by ZeusHumms at 5:05 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by LN at 5:12 AM on May 13, 2012


He played in Neil Young's touring band in the early 2000s, and also when Young performed with Booker T and the MGs in the early 90s. I saw him play with Neil Young in what must have been early 2000. The local weekly paper ran an ad for that show that I clipped out and hung onto for a while. Everyone in the band was named in the ad, and even though I knew very little about him, I always remembered Dunn's name because of his unique monicker.

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posted by compartment at 5:13 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by mrbill at 5:16 AM on May 13, 2012


Catch him with Levon Helm & The RCO Allstars and you'll get two incredible, freshly-dead legends for the price of one! So, so sad.
posted by thejoshu at 5:18 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by fatbaq at 5:22 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by sciencejock at 5:33 AM on May 13, 2012


Very sad to hear. But what a great career he had. He got to play with everyone.

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posted by readery at 5:50 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by jake1 at 5:53 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by gauche at 5:54 AM on May 13, 2012


Good men are droppin' like flies.

Please keep in mind that it has always been thus - good men drop like flies. The only thing changing is your growing awareness of the larger world: as you age you know more and more of these men.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:04 AM on May 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow, what sad news. I could always pick him out behind the bass in countless great R&B performance videos. He was seemingly everywhere in the Stax and Atlantic years. RIP.
posted by rocket88 at 6:08 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Unioncat at 6:09 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Ber at 6:15 AM on May 13, 2012


Dying in your sleep while continuing to live the life you love... I can't think of a better way to go out, personally.

Thanks for all your music, Mr. Dunn. You made the world a better place, and you will long be remembered.

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posted by hippybear at 6:29 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


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posted by dbiedny at 6:31 AM on May 13, 2012


Nice post, flappers.

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posted by Wolof at 6:33 AM on May 13, 2012


When I was a kid and used to watch "The Blues Brothers" with my dad I didn't know anything about music, but I vividly recall how the bass lines on many of the songs jumped-out at me. I think that you've done a pretty good job if you can get through to 10-year-old me.

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posted by wintermind at 6:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The key of A will always be a good country key after his great advice.

RIP

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posted by Nick Verstayne at 6:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


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posted by Aquaman at 6:37 AM on May 13, 2012



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posted by coldhotel at 6:38 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by tommasz at 6:43 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by ob1quixote at 6:43 AM on May 13, 2012


"Donald "Duck" Dunn has died..."

Oh, I *love* that movie! The most purely enjoyable film of the eighties, I think. And he had so many classic lines in it.

" What's happenin', hot stuff?"
"Ohhh, sexy girlfriend!... Bonzai!"
"She at the church. She getting married to oily bohunk."


So long, Duck Dunn!
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posted by markkraft at 6:53 AM on May 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm another one of those kids of the right age introduced to the music by the Blues Brothers. So long and thanks for all the bass lines.

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posted by immlass at 6:54 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by safetyfork at 7:00 AM on May 13, 2012


Damn. Not sure what to put here - the man had a profound effect on my life, without me ever hardly even thinking about it. He didn't have the flash of Jamerson, but the man could dig a groove a mile deep.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:10 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by swlabr at 7:28 AM on May 13, 2012


A sad day for music - he was incredible
posted by InfidelZombie at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by fingers_of_fire at 7:31 AM on May 13, 2012


Another one of the great ones gone. RIP, Mr. Dunn.
posted by jonmc at 7:35 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Bartonius at 7:44 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by cookie-k at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Mister Bijou at 7:56 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by caclwmr4 at 7:57 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2012


Murph and the Magictones will never come back to play their two-hour disco swing party.

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posted by stannate at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by Catblack at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2012


I saw Dunn play when the MG's backed Neil Young in 1993. We had great seats, thanks to a friend's dad being an exec at Coca-Cola and the concert being held at the Coca-Cola Starplex in Dallas. I recall someone (a friend or maybe a drunk fellow concertgoer) pointing out that the bass player had been in the Blues Brothers, an astonishingly cool fact for my 16 year old brain. Green Onions was the only BT & the MG's song we knew and, against our hopes, they didn't play it.
posted by item at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved his playing, sad to see him gone.

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posted by ghharr at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2012


very nicely put together Obit post. cheers for that, but boo to the the passing of such a fine fellow as Dunn.
posted by edgeways at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2012


My Google News feed is carrying the headline (via Entertainment Weekly):

"Legendary MGs bassist Donald 'Duck' Dunn dies in Tokyo at age 700"
posted by item at 8:32 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


No disrespect to James Jamerson and the Funk Brothers, but Duck Dunn was the greatest bass player of the soul era and Booker T. And The MGs were the greatest four-piece ever assembled. Whwn AL Jackson, Steve Cropper, Booker T. Jones and Dunn got together, it was something beyond magical. It was primal. Devil's Rancher was right when he said they didn't have the flashiness of the Motown group, but they didn't need it. Every note was in exactly the right place, and there was nothing extraneous or fancy about it. It was the Platonic ideal of soul.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by motty at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by litlnemo at 8:35 AM on May 13, 2012


Died while on tour, still rockin' at age 70. Now, that's hardcore.

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posted by jonp72 at 8:36 AM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]




Thanks for the great post, flapjax. The music continues...
posted by languagehat at 8:38 AM on May 13, 2012


Take a listen to this performance of "Time Is Tight" with the original MGs.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:42 AM on May 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


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My first exposure was The Blues Brothers around age 8, and I liked him because we shared the same surname. And when I started playing bass at 16, I listened to a lot of motown era music, and he was probably on half of it. Time to pull out some old tracks, and find a goat.
posted by hanoixan at 8:53 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by the cydonian at 9:10 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by eriko at 9:35 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by SounderCoo at 9:44 AM on May 13, 2012


Man rocked a mean pipe, too.

RIP, Mr. Dunn.
posted by bpm140 at 9:49 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by dismas at 9:57 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by mwhybark at 10:13 AM on May 13, 2012


My son picked up the bass after asking me who the guy was playing bass in the Blues Bros movie.

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posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:16 AM on May 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Duck Dunn was the greatest bass player of the soul era

It's mind boggling looking at that list of his credited recordings. Well, I know how I'm spending my Sunday.

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posted by Lorin at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2012


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I know you're anxious, Jake, and you may be on a mission from God, but I'm in no hurry to see the band get back together this way.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:21 AM on May 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


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posted by donajo at 10:33 AM on May 13, 2012


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That green onions clip is the bomb.
posted by marienbad at 10:34 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Z303 at 11:00 AM on May 13, 2012


The Blues Brothers arrived at just the right time in my life to make me a bass player. Although I tend to think of Jamerson and Danko and McCartney as the players I listen to from that era, Duck is rooted pretty deep in my musical education. The man was a master at propelling a song with a beatiful economy of notes. Another good one down.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by brennen at 11:12 AM on May 13, 2012


I think it would be hard to overstate the impact that The Blues Brothers had on me as a kid. I mean, it completely shifted my musical paradigm, and Duck was no small part of that.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:37 AM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Spatch at 11:38 AM on May 13, 2012


Memphis-born bassman Donald "Duck" Dunn has died while on tour (along with fellow legend and bandmate Steve Cropper) in Tokyo

Might want to redo that sentence. Worriedly checked to see if there had been a car crash that took them both.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:42 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by Anitanola at 11:46 AM on May 13, 2012


And the world is that much less cool.

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posted by Splunge at 11:47 AM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw hells to the no!


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posted by Lynsey at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Snyder at 12:18 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 12:28 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by smirkette at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2012


:(. . .
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:44 PM on May 13, 2012


Guess heaven needed someone to hold up the bottom end.

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posted by Sailormom at 1:23 PM on May 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


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posted by klausness at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:04 PM on May 13, 2012


On Wilson Pickett's 99 1/2 Won't Do

And

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posted by toodleydoodley at 3:18 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by puckupdate at 4:18 PM on May 13, 2012


Oh, I *love* that movie! The most purely enjoyable film of the eighties, I think. And he had so many classic lines in it.

Gosh, I want to lecture you on the inappropriateness of this, but it was so goddamn funny.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:33 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by titus-g at 4:55 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 5:11 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by waraw at 5:29 PM on May 13, 2012


Way to go out living your life Mr. Dunn.

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posted by dry white toast at 5:36 PM on May 13, 2012


So sad. He helped make bass what it is now. King in the session, master on-stage. So much he did, but so few will ever know the name.
posted by graftole at 5:50 PM on May 13, 2012


Add me to the guestbook. As a young bass player, Dunn and Jamerson were my Alpha and Omega of groove.

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posted by spitbull at 5:53 PM on May 13, 2012


[Sigh. Just spent the last hour working on my own post. ]

Some other useful links for fellow fans:

Booker T

Steve Cropper

The Mar-Keys' nationwide hit, "Last Night"

Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign".

And for those of you who always wanted to know, "MGs" : Memphis Group.
posted by grimjeer at 6:41 PM on May 13, 2012


Have always been a Stax girl. Motown was too manicured-for-white-people for me - Stax felt more organic. One of the things I love about the MGs was that they basically integrated soul. We have this awesome DVD of the Stax/Volt Revue (purchased at the Stax Museum, natch) recorded in Norway in 1966 (I think) and in the special features Cropper talks about how he and Duck would be 16 years old, sneaking across the river to the black side of town to go to the clubs to listen to music. The Green Onions clip in the OP is from that DVD, which is required viewing for any soul fan.

Incidentally, I read he hadn't played on the recorded version of Green Onions that became famous. At the time he wasn't an MG — he'd already had a hit in 1961, Last Night, with his first band, the Mar-Keys.

Saw Booker T play a few years ago and he was still amazing. Always hoped to see Cropper and Duck play. :(
posted by Brittanie at 7:50 PM on May 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


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posted by lester's sock puppet at 7:54 PM on May 13, 2012


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posted by joe lisboa at 7:56 PM on May 13, 2012


And for those of you who always wanted to know, "MGs" : Memphis Group.

Hmm, one of the other band members who just sat in with Letterman's (i.e., Paul Schafer's) band last week said it was because there was an MG car sitting out front the first time they played.
posted by pmurray63 at 5:19 AM on May 14, 2012


I spent quite a bit of time trying to copy his bass line from "Soul Man" and never did manage it. RIP, Mr. Dunn.
posted by Gelatin at 9:29 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by RolandOfEld at 11:14 AM on May 14, 2012


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posted by Halloween Jack at 2:11 PM on May 14, 2012


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