Sad Music Monday: Booker T And The M.G.’s And The Soul Of Stax… For Donald “Duck” Dunn

The music is not sad… quite the contrary… but the news that precipitated me choosing it is…

News moves at the speed of light… at least it does in today’s multi-media, internet, everyone owns a camera phone kind of way… and in a way that is sad, as things happen almost too instantaneously… like Wikipedia posting about someone’s death and saying “was” instead of “is” so fast.  Sigh…

“Donald “Duck” Dunn (November 24, 1941 – May 13, 2012) was an American bass guitarist, record producer, and songwriter. Dunn was notable for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.’s and as a session bassist for Stax Records, which specialized in blues and gospel-infused southern soul and Memphis soul music styles. Dunn also performed on recordings with The Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Albert King, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Guy Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Roy Buchanan and Arthur Conley.”

What a list!  Not sure how else to say it… other than this guy was the shit.

Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Stax-Volt: The Complete Singles, 1959-68 (Vol. 9)

I remember when this box set came out and I literally drooled.  I wanted it so badly… Still do…

I got the Atlantic R&B set instead, which is fantastic… don’t get me wrong, but I really want this big ‘ol black box…

“Booker T. & the M.G.’s is an instrumental R&B band that was influential in shaping the sound of southern soul and Memphis soul. Original members of the group were Booker T. Jones (organ, piano), Steve Cropper (guitar), Lewie Steinberg (bass), and Al Jackson, Jr. (drums). In the 1960s, as members of the house band of Stax Records, they played on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Sam & Dave, Carla and Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor. They also released instrumental records under their own name, such as the 1962 hit single “Green Onions”.  As originators of the unique Stax sound, the group was one of the most prolific, respected, and imitated of their era. By the mid-1960s, bands on both sides of the Atlantic were trying to sound like Booker T. & the M.G.’s.”

Dunn joined the band in 1964, so he did not play on the classic recorded version of  “Green Onions”, (that was  Lewie Steinberg) but he certainly helped give the band their groove.  He played on songs like: “Walking the Dog”, “Hold On, I’m Comin’”… “Soul Man”, “Who’s Making Love”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)”, and “Try a Little Tenderness”.

Again, my first awareness of Donald was from The Blues Brothers… He played on Briefcase Full Of Blues and was in both films, playing himself.

Once I started figuring out who he and the guys in the band really were… Wow!

From the AP:

“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.”

I guess if you have to go, going in your sleep is the way.  Well… there is one other way I’d like to go, but…

To be so far away… It’s just really sad…

RIP Donald “Duck” Dunn… one of my true blues brothers!



Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, The News Blues

2 responses to “Sad Music Monday: Booker T And The M.G.’s And The Soul Of Stax… For Donald “Duck” Dunn

  1. Dunn represented one side of the racial divide that was absent in the recording in the Stax universe. Sadly, after the assassination of Dr. King, there were fewer examples of mixed race band ensembles. I think I’ve read Cropper talking of that unfortunate development but I’m not sure. Happened with the demise of AM radio, a place where everyone listened to all popular music in the glorious sixties.

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