Clyde Stubblefield / April 18, 1943 - Feb 18, 2017

The recently-deceased Clyde Stubblefield was one of the drummers (along with Jabo Starks..."Starks was the Beatles to Clyde's Stones. A clean shuffle drummer to Clyde's free-jazz left hand"--Questlove) in the James Brown band from '65-'70, powering "Cold Sweat", "Ain't It Funky Now", "Say It Loud - I'm Black & I'm Proud", "There Was A Time", "Sex Machine", "I Got The Feelin", "Mother Popcorn", "Get Up Get Into It Get Involved", Bobby Byrd's "If You Don't Work, You Can't Eat", Marva Whitney's "It's My Thing", Vicki Anderson's "Message From The Soul Sisters" and many more.

Of course, it's his drums on "Funky Drummer" that has been sampled HUNDREDS of times in hiphop, electronic and pop music. Yet Stubblefield, despite the fact that the song was built from scratch off of him jamming in the studio, did not get a composer credit, therefore no royalties or payment went to him.

A native of Chatanooga TN, he was influenced by industrial sounds and trains. A self-taught drummer, he started his professional career as a teenager, playing with bluesman Eddie Kirkland and Otis Redding in the early '60s. He joined JB in '65, after James heard him in a club in Macon GA, and stayed until '70, when he moved briefly to Detroit and then settling in Madison WI in '71.

He remained in Madison for the rest of his life, holding a decades-long weekly residency with his own band. He also played locally and regionally in funk, jazz and country bands. He was the drummer for the nationally syndicated Whad'ya Know? radio show. He also played with his former Brown bandmates from time to time, including Fred Wesley, Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, Pee Wee Ellis, as well as a partnership with Starks in The Funkmasters and other projects.

Aside from JB-related activities and all the samples, he can be heard drumming on albums by Ben Sidran, James Vincent (Space Traveler), Blume, Public Enemy, the P-Funk tribute band The Clinton Administration, Phil Upchurch, Stone Foundation, Bill O'Brien's Cool At The Union, singer Hillary Smith, jazz guitarist Chris McDermott and Garbage. He also memorably appeared on The Jimmy Fallon Show with The Roots and Chuck D.

Clyde largely stopped playing in 2011 when he got ill. To help raise money (and to rightly make some from his beats), he offered to play his JB beats for your record for a fee. Prince reportedly paid $90,000 worth of his medical bills. He passed in February.

Clyde showing how it's done:

The night James Brown saved Boston (after the MLK assassination), he gives the drummer some:

Stone classic!:

Say it loud!

With Bobby Byrd:

Another James Brown alias: "Steve Soul":

Here he is, puttin' in time with Phil Upchurch and Ben Sidran on Sidran's '73 album Puttin' In Time On Planet Earth:

From Sidran's '74 album Don't Let Go:

Madison-based band Blume, from their Mad City 45, ca '74:

Here's a cut from Clyde's 1997 album The Revenge of the Funky Drummer, also available on a 12":




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