Clyde Stubblefield was a great drummer, so great in fact, that he played with the notorious James Brown, known for fining his backing band if they missed a note. He formed a 1-2 punch with “Jabo” Starks and played drums for Brown during the peak of his career.
Stubblefield has been sampled by some of the most prominent hip-hop pioneers of all time. He past away from kidney failure on February 18th. We want to honor his life with 5 fast facts you need to know about Clyde Stubblefield.
1. James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” is one of the Most Sampled Beats of All Time
Clyde Stubblefield was the drummer for James Brown’s “Funky Drummer”, one of the most sampled beats of all time. Rap groups including Run-D.M.C., N.W.A, LL Cool J, and Prince have sampled the beat in their music.
The drummer was featured in the PBS documentary Copyright Criminals which discussed various creative and legal aspects of sampling other artists material in the music industry.
2. He Joined James Brown’s Band in 1965
Stubblefield joined James Brown’s band in 1965. The band had two drummers over the next six years. Stubblefield played along with John “Jabo” Starks.
The two drummers had no formal training, but they formed the backbone of many of Brown’s biggest hits. They also laid the foundation for modern funk, soul, and hip-hop drum beats in the process.
3. He Formed the Clyde Stubblefield Band in Madison, Wisconsin
Stubblefield made his home in Madison, Wisconsin in 1971. He formed his own band, The Clyde Stubblefield Band, in Madison along with keyboard player Steve “Doc” Skaggs, vocalist Charlie Brooks, and Karri Daley complete with a horn section.
Stubblefield also played with country trio Common Faces, and jazz group NEO. He also performed with James Brown alumni Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and “Jabo” Starks. This group released the album Bring the Funk on Down in 1999.
4. He Didn’t Release a Proper Solo Album Until 1997
He released his first solo album entitled The Revenge of the Funky Drummer in 1997. In 2002 he released a 26 track break-beat album titled The Original Funky Breakbeat Album. His third album titled The Original was released in 2003.
5. He has Been Named One of the Greatest Drummers of All Time
In 2014 LA Weekly named Clyde Stubblefield the second greatest drummer of all time. Both Stubblefield and Starks received the Yamaha Legacy Award in 2013.
In 2016, Rolling Stone named Stubblefield and Starks the sixth best drummers of all time.