James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” Clyde Stubblefield Has Passed

James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” Clyde Stubblefield Has Passed

Celebrities and fans share their love for the late "breakbeat architect" across social media.

by LaToya Cross, February 19, 2017

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James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” Clyde Stubblefield Has Passed

Photo: Twitter

As a co-worker stated when receiving the upcoming news, “Prince must be in heaven building a new band” because, sadly, we are losing legendary talent left and right.

Following the shocking news of jazz icon Al Jarreau’s passing, James Brown’s drummer and “break beat architect” Clyde Stubblefield has died at the age of 73 due to kidney failure, reports Rolling Stone.



Stubblefield’s health issues became public knowledge dating back to 2002, when he had a kidney removed. In the last decade, he suffered from end-stage renal disease.

In 2016, Prince, who considered Stubblefield one of his “drummer idols”, secretly paid $90,000 in medical bills the drummer accumulated while undergoing chemotherapy for bladder cancer. The payment became a huge issue as he did not have health insurance.

Known for flexing his instrumental skills on Brown’s “Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”, “Cold Sweat” and “Funky Drummer”, to name a few respectfully, Stubblefield, made his biggest impact on music during a 20-second drum break solo on the latter in 1970 and has since served as a huge sampling agent in hip-hop.

In a 2012 interview with SF Weekly, Stubblefield expressed his creative freedom when working with Brown. “All the drum patterns I played with Brown was my own; he never told me how to play or what to play.” However, due to never being listed on the tracks, royalties never rolled his way. “I just played my own patterns, and the hip-hoppers and whatever, the people that used the material probably paid him, maybe. But we got nothing. I got none of it. It was all my drum product.”

Despite having not received proper credit, Stubblefield shared that though he felt it was “disrespectful” to use material and not pay people, it didn’t “bug or disturb [him].”

With news of the legend’s passing, celebrities and fans took to social media to share their memories and condolences. A few can be read below.

Rest in Power, Clyde “Funky Drummer” Stubblefield.





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