Donald "Duck" Dunn of Booker T. & the MGs
Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

Obituaries have tragically become a regular feature here in the past few months, as today's (May 13) death of Booker T. & the M.G.'s bassist and pioneering musician Donald "Duck" Dunn adds to a growing list of recent deaths, including Whitney Houston, Adam "MCA" Yauch, Dick Clark and Levon Helm. The 70-year-old had just finished two shows in Tokyo Saturday and died in his sleep later that night.

Dunn's may not be a household name, but as the studio bassist for revered Memphis soul and funk label Stax Records, his sound can be heard on Otis Redding's "Respect," Sam and Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'" and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign."

The bassist was a major part of the "Stax sound," a rawer, more funk-driven style than its Motown counterpart, and Dunn's contributions helped define modern soul music. The M.G.'s began as the house band for many of the 1960s' great soul vocalists, but achieved success on their own with a string of acclaimed instrumental albums. As one of the first racially integrated groups, Booker T. & the M.G.'s crossed color boundaries previously unknown in the genre.

Dunn is survived by his wife, June and son, Jeff.

Booker T. & the M.G.'s, "Hip Hug-Her"