Duck Dunn (Booker T & The MG’s)

Courtesy of Duck Dunn Remembered Com

“I listen to the first playback, then go back into the studio and play half of what I did!” Donald “Duck” Dunn


Along with James Jamerson Jr., Carol Kaye, and many of the Wrecking Crew players of the early 1960s, Duck established the electric bass as the bedrock of popular music by way of his work in Booker T. and the MG’s and as an in-demand A list studio player.


Dunn’s style is a master course in the use of rhythm and space. Play through his transcriptions and you discover not a superfluous fill, grace note, nor rapid-fire motif. Duck let the music breathe, and by doing so you can hear the song within his bass passages.


A player whose influence is incalculable, Duck’s legendary weapon of choice was the Fender Precision outfitted with heavy gauge LaBella’s akin to his peer Jamerson – which he amplified with various Ampeg rigs, most notably the B-15, again akin to the aforementioned Motown icon. 


So what Donald “Duck” Dunn done? Booker T. & the MGs, Ray Charles, The Blues Brothers, Roy Buchanan, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Ritchie Havens, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, Muddy Waters, Bill Withers, Neil Young, The Manhattan Transfer, The Staples Singers, Boz Scaggs, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Freddie King, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Jerry Lee Lewis…to name a scant few. 


Nick Rosaci’s transcription book Soul Fingers: The Music & Life of Legendary Bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn – is essential reading for all bassists who work in a pop, rhythm and blues, soul, funk, rock context.


Every track Duck cut is worthy of exploration – so rather than choose one of his more popular passages, dig this somewhat obscure Slowhand recording “The Shape You’re In”


Tony Senatore’s Booker T. medley with some of Duck’s classic passages:


Kenny Aaronson, Tom Semioli in the Duck Dunn shed!