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

Carla Harmon
February 19, 2017

Drummer Clyde Stubblefield, the man behind what is arguably the most sampled beat in all of hip hop, died Saturday.

Throughout hip-hop's history, you'll be able to recognize Stubblefield's break on "Funky Drummer". He played a weekly show at the High Noon Saloon in Madison, the university town where he moved in 1971 after leaving Brown's band. Rolling Stone says it was sampled on over 1,000 songs and served as the backbeat for countless hip-hop tracks, including Public Enemy's "Fight the Power".


Questlove, one of the most influential drummers in hip-hop, on Saturday paid tribute to Stubblefield on Instagram, writing: "The spirit of the greatest grace-note left-hand snare drummer will live on through all of us". Mr.Clyde Stubblefield has left our frequency. Along with John "Jabo" Starks, the James Brown Band's other drummer, Stubblefield paved the way for the future of funk drumming, and his break on "Funky Drummer" is probably the most sampled beat of all time, showing up in songs by Run-D.M.C., N.W.A, Raekwon, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Prince, and more. I am lost for words & Rythme right now.

Of coming up with "Funky Drummer", he said: "We were sitting up in the studio, getting ready for a session, and I guess when I got set up I just started playing a pattern". We all loved U so much. R.I.P. Born in Tennessee, Stubblefield was entirely self-taught, touring with Eddie Kirkland and Otis Redding before eventually hooking up with James Brown in 1965. "From all yr Funkateers..." It was reported that Stubblefield was one of his "drumming idols".


Known for his association with James Brown, Stubblefield was behind the kit on the infamous "Funky Drummer" song Brown released in 1970. He retired from his regular playing in 2011 due to health issues.


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