Passings: Clyde Stubblefield, Drummer For James Brown (1943 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Clyde Stubblefield, the drummer who brought the funky beat to James Brown's sound and one of the most sampled drummers in history, died on Saturday from kidney failure. He was 73.

Questlove wrote on Saturday "The Funky Funkiest Drummer Of All Time. Clyde Stubblefield thank you for everything you've taught me. The spirit of the greatest grace note left hand snare drummer will live on thru all of us. #RIP."

William "Bootsy" Collins wrote "We lost another Pillar Stone that held up the Foundation of Funk. Mr.Clyde Stubblefield has left our frequency. I am lost for words & Rythme right now. Dang Clyde! U taught me so much as I stood their watchin' over u & Jabo while keepin' one eye on the Godfather. We all loved U so much. (SENDOUT YR LOVE TO HIS FAMILY & FRIENDS)! Then share yr stories about this Fire breathin' Drummer, (THE FUNKY DRUMMER)! R.I.P. From all yr Funkateers..."

Born in Chattanooga, TN, Stubblefield started playing drums after seeing them in a marching band and eventually worked with Eddie Kirkland and Otis Redding in the early-60's but it was his move to James Brown's band in 1965 that brought him his greatest fame.

Stubblefield, along with co-drummer John "Jabo" Starks, were instrumental in developing modern funk drumming. Clyde can be heard on 60's Brown singles including Cold Sweat, I Got the Feelin', Say It Loud - I'm Black I'm Proud and Mother Popcorn.

Clyde was probably best known, thought, for a drum break he played on the 1970 Brown instrumental Funky Drummer (1970 / #51 Pop / #20 R&B). That short section has been sampled hundreds of times on hip-hop recordings including such classics as Fight the Power (Public Enemy), Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J), Run's House (Run-DMC), Fuck tha Police (N.W.A.) and Shadrach (Beastie Boys).

In 1971, Stubblefield left Brown' band and moved to Madison, WI where he played with a number of local musicians and had a regular Monday night show for over twenty years with his own band. He also continued to work with current and former members of The J.B.'s including Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and former drum cohort "Jabo" Starks.

Clyde released his first solo album, The Revenge of the Funky Drummer, in 1997 and, with Starks, formed the Funkmasters who released two albums (Find the Groove (2001) and Come Get Summa This (2006).

Since 2000, Stubblefield had a series of medical crisis including cancer and renal disease. Many musicians assisted Clyde with medical costs including Prince who considered him a drumming idol. He retired from his regular playing in 2011 due to health issues.

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