Famed for his work with James Brown, Stubblefield was one of the most-sampled artists in musical history
Clyde Stubblefield - James Brown's famous "funky drummer" - died of kidney failure yesterday (18 February). The 73-year-old had been suffering from kidney disease for many years, with the late Prince reportedly picking up over $80K's worth of medical costs because he had no health insurance.
Raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a young Stubblefield played drums for Otis Redding before joining James Brown's band in 1965, playing alongside fellow drummer John 'Jabo' Starks. He would go on to play on countless soul and funk classics, including Sex Machine, It's A Man's Man's Man's World, Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud, and of course Funky Drummer, the drum break from which has formed the basis of too many hip-hop records to count - WhoSampled.com lists over 1,000 - and indeed tracks by artists as diverse as Ed Sheeran, Depeche Mode, Emeli Sandé, Snap!, Sinead O'Connor and Nine Inch Nails.
He left the JBs in 1970 but would continue to work with many of the band's members over the years, including the likes of Bootsy Collins and Maceo Parker. He never stopped playing, and as recently as 2011 was seen performing Fight The Power on The Jimmy Fallon Show with Chuck D and members of The Roots. His name features highly on many "best drummers of all time" lists, and a pair of his autographed drumsticks are on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
On hearing the news, Bootsy Collins posted on Facebook: "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."
He is survived by his wife Jody Hannon.
Pic: Clyde Stubblefield in 2005, copyright Paul VanDerWerf/Creative Commons.