Donald “Duck” Dunn grew up in Memphis playing sports and riding his bike with future guitarist Steve Cropper. When Cropper decided to play guitar Dunn decided to teach himself bass. According to Cropper, Dunn would play along with records adding what he thought should be there and in time developed his own unique style. The two along with other classmates recorded a national hit in 1961 as the Mar-Keys.
When Booker T Jones and Cropper formed Booker T & the M.G.s, the original bassist left and Dunn quickly stepped in. In addition to their own records, the M.G.s served as the house band at Stax Records, working on many hit records with artists including Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Albert King. When Jones and Cropper left Stax Dunn remained working on later Elvis Presley recordings.
After Stax, Duck Dunn went on to lay down bass lines for many famous recordings of the 70s and 80s including Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton and Stevie Nicks. Dunn finally reunited with Steve Cropper when they both played in Levon Helm’s RCO All Stars in the mid 80s.
For most fans, Duck Dunn is best known for being in the Blues Brothers band. He was frequently smoking a pipe while playing and uttered this famous line from the movie: We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!”
Dunn died in 2012 after finishing a double show at the Blue Note nightclub in Tokyo where he was appearing with Steve Cropper.