"Duck Dunn was the backbone of the Stax/Volt era," fellow Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd said

By Stephen M. Silverman
May 14, 2012 08:25 AM
Charles Paul Harris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bass player credited for the gritty sound behind such soul legends as Booker T. and the MGs, Sam and Dave and Otis Redding, has died, his family announced. He was 70

Son Jeff Dunn told CNN his father died in his sleep in Tokyo after performing concerts that had been postponed after the 2011 Japanese earthquake.

“They were over there doing five shows in a row, two shows every night – and for a 70-year-old guy, that was quite a bit of work,” said Jeff Dunn.

A member of the house band for his native Memphis’s Stax Records, and heard on such hits as “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” “In the Midnight Hour” and “Soul Man,” Dunn also played with the Blues Brothers Band, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

“Duck Dunn was the backbone of the Stax/Volt era,” Aykroyd said in a statement. “He was and will remain universally loved by all that knew him. His talent, knowledge and warmth, and especially his humor will be greatly missed.”

According to the biography on his official website, Dunn was nicknamed for the Disney character by his father and became a musician in high school – against his father’s wishes.

His influences, according to the website, were “blues and R&B stars like BB King and Ray Charles.”

Of his early career, he said, “I would have liked to have been on the road more but the record company wanted us in the studio. Man, we were recording almost a hit a day for a while there. But I never knew how popular that music was until I came to England with Otis Redding in 1967.”

Survivors, besides his son Jeff, include his wife, June, and a grandson, according to reports.