Clyde Stubblefield, the legendary funk drummer known for his work on iconic James Brown songs like “Funky Drummer” and “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” has died. He was 73.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1943, Stubblefield began drumming at a young age, inspired by the clattering industrial rhythms of the factories in his hometown. He spent some time playing in regional bands, and in 1965, after seeing him perform at a club gig in Macon, Georgia, James Brown hired him on the spot. 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.
In 1971, Stubblefield moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he remained for the rest of his life, playing with his own band, collaborating with Jabo Starks, and releasing several solo albums. Revisit some of his work below.