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Thinking about Donald "Duck" Dunn


Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Yes, I know. This should be an obituary, but it's not. It's a gig story.

"Duck" Dunn is gone.

Around 1972,when I was playing with the CC Riders, we played a room in Memphis on the top floor of a skyscraper. The room was round with panoramic windows, and it revolved, very slowly, once an hour. They forgot to tell us about the rotating part.

When we set up in the afternoon, the room wasn't moving. There were not many electrical outlets on stage, so we ran extension cords to outlets on the outside walls. What we were really thinking about was the show that night. We had heard that Otis Redding's backup band was coming to see us. That meant "Duck" Dunn, Steve Cropper, and Al Jackson.

The tables in the club radiated out from the bandstand in the center like spokes in a wheel. That night at showtime, the great funk players were seated right up front, a little off to the left. The Riders went into the first instrumental band tune, kicking ass and taking names. When the tune was over, I looked up and noticed that Steve, Duck, and Al were now seated directly in the middle of the room. I thought, "Geez, they moved and got better seats!" The room was now revolving but we still didn't know it.

We played another band tune and then we went into the vamp to bring up Wayne Cochran. Just then, BLONK! the power went out. The room had rotated and pulled our extension cords out of the wall jacks. After a few minutes, we fixed the problem and the show went on.

Al Jackson was stunned by Jaco Pastorius' playing and offered him a record contract. Jaco turned it down. That's another story. Al also told our drummer, Allyn Robinson "You just out Al Jacksoned Al Jackson!"

I felt really stupid that I had not realized the room had been rotating. After the show, I told Jaco, "I didn't look up for five minutes, and I thought Steve, Duck, and Al had moved over a row." Jaco said, "Heck, I didn't look up for three tunes, and I thought they split!"


Artist in residence
Distinguished Member
Ha! Great story! Sounds like something straight out of the 'Blues Brothers.' Yeah, those rotating stages can be a 'challenge.' I remember working one in Cleveland that never stopped moving, and sped up as the show went on. By the end of the show, the audience was almost a blur, and we felt like we were on a centrifuge.