Clyde Stubblefield

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Clyde Stubblefield
Clyde-Stubblefield-june-24-2005.jpg
Background information
Birth name Clyde Austin Stubblefield
Born (1943-04-18)April 18, 1943
Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States
Died February 18, 2017(2017-02-18) (aged 73)
Madison, Wisconsin
Genres Funk, R&B, soul
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active c. 1960–2017
Associated acts James Brown, John "Jabo" Starks, Michael Feldman

Clyde Stubblefield (April 18, 1943 – February 18, 2017) was an American drummer best known for his work with James Brown. A self-taught musician, he was influenced by the sound of natural rhythms around him. His drum patterns on Brown's recordings are considered funk standards. He recorded and toured with Brown for six years and settled in Madison, Wisconsin, where he was a staple of the local music scene. Often uncredited, samples of his drum patterns were heavily used in hip-hop music.

Early life

Born to Frank D. and Vena Stubblefield on April 18, 1943, he grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.[1][2] As a youngster his sense of rhythm was influenced by the industrial sounds of factories and trains around him.[3][4] He was inspired to pursue drumming after seeing drummers for the first time in a parade.[5] He played professionally as a teenager.[6] In early 1960s he worked with guitarist Eddie Kirkland and toured with Otis Redding.[7]

Drummer for James Brown, 1965 to 1970

In 1965 he joined James Brown's band.[5] Over the next six years the band had two drummers, Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks who had joined the band two weeks earlier. Starks' style was influenced by the church music he grew up with in Mobile, Alabama. The two drummers had no formal training.[4] According to Stubblefield, "We just played what we wanted to play (...) We just put down what we think it should be."[3] The two "created the grooves on many of Brown's biggest hits and laid the foundation for modern funk drumming in the process."[4]

Stubblefield's recordings with James Brown are considered to be some of the standard-bearers for funk drumming, including the singles "Cold Sweat", "There Was a Time", "I Got The Feelin'", "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud", "Ain't It Funky Now", "Mother Popcorn", "Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved" and the album Sex Machine.[8][9]

His rhythm pattern on James Brown's "Funky Drummer" is among the world's most sampled musical segments. It has been used for decades by hip-hop groups and rappers such as Public Enemy, Run-D.M.C., N.W.A, Raekwon, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Prince, and has also been used in other genres.[3][10] Though the sole creator of his patterns, Stubblefield was not credited for the use of the samples.[11][10] He was featured in the 2009 PBS documentary, Copyright Criminals, which addressed the creative and legal aspects of sampling in the music industry.[9][12]

Career, 1971 to 2017

Stubblefield lived in Madison, Wisconsin, from 1971 onward.[13] For over twenty years he played Monday nights with his band, The Clyde Stubblefield Band, in downtown Madison. The band featured his longtime friend and keyboard-organ player Steve "Doc" Skaggs, along with soul vocalists Charlie Brooks and Karri Daley, as well as a horn section and supporting band. Stubblefield retired from the Monday shows in 2011 due to health issues, leaving the band in the hands of his nephew Brett Stubblefield.[14][15]

Stubblefield worked with a variety of musicians in the Madison area such as keyboardist Steve Skaggs, guitarist Cris Plata, jazz violinist Randy Sabien, country trio Common Faces and jazz group NEO.[16][17] He performed and recorded with members of The J.B.'s including Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and "Jabo" Starks.[17][18] The group released the album Bring the Funk on Down in 1999.[19] From the early 1990s to 2015 he performed on the nationally syndicated public radio show Whad'Ya Know?[3][20]

Stubblefield's first solo album The Revenge of the Funky Drummer was released in 1997. The album was produced by producer-songwriter Richard Mazda.[21] In 2002 he released a 26 track break-beat album titled The Original Funky Drummer Breakbeat Album.[22] Stubblefield's third solo album The Original was released in 2003.[23] All compositions were based on Stubblefield's drum grooves and the album was produced by Leo Sidran.[6]

Stubblefield collaborated frequently with "Jabo" Starks. As the Funkmasters, the duo released an album in 2001 called Find the Groove and an album in 2006 called Come Get Summa This.[24][25] The duo also released a drumming instruction video in 1999 titled Soul of the Funky Drummers.[1][26] In December 2007, the duo joined Bootsy Collins in Covington, Kentucky, for the first tribute concert in memory of James Brown.[27] Stubblefield and Starks played on Funk for Your Ass, a tribute album by fellow James Brown orchestra alum Fred Wesley. The album was released in 2008.[28] Later that year an expansion to the EZdrummer software was released with samples recorded by Stubblefield and Starks.[29]

In 2009 Stubblefield was in need of a kidney transplant and underwent dialysis treatments.[16] Musicians in the Madison area organized fundraiser events, donating the proceeds to supplement his dialysis treatment and subsequent medical bills.[7][30] Stubblefield coped with health issues from the early 2000s onward including cancer. His wife Jody Hannon was a source of support in managing his health.[3][16][31]

In 2011 Stubblefield performed "Fight the Power" on the Jimmy Fallon show along with Chuck D and members of The Roots and Eclectic Method.[14][32] In 2012 he gave an autobiographical talk and performed his favorite beats at the Madison Ruby conference in Madison, Wisconsin.[33] In 2015 a scholarship fund for music education was started and named after him.[34][35]

Recognition

In 2014 Stubblefield was named the second best drummer of all time by LA Weekly. According to the LA Weekly, "Stubblefield is one of the most sampled drummers in history, the man whose uncanny ability to deconstruct pop music's simple 4/4 rhythms into a thousand different sly syncopations laid the foundation not only for funk, but for most of hip-hop, as well."[36] In 2013 Stubblefield and Starks received the Yamaha Legacy Award.[37][38] In 2004 he received the lifetime achievement award at the Madison Area Music Awards.[39] In 2000 he was inducted into the Wisconsin Area Music Industry hall of fame.[40] In 1990 he was named drummer of the year by Rolling Stone magazine, and in 2016 the magazine named Stubblefield and Starks the sixth best drummer of all time.[5][41] A set of Stubblefield's autographed drum-sticks are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[5]

Nerdcore rapper MC Frontalot paid tribute to Stubblefield in his song "Good Old Clyde".[42] Hip hop artist Black Thought of The Roots rhymes "I'm cooler than Clyde Stubblefield, drummer for James" in the song "Stay Cool".[43] According to Questlove, drummer of The Roots, Stubblefield is the one "who defined funk music."[3] Chuck D said of Stubblefield's impact on hip-hop, "It was a style of repetition that was emulated as opposed to just the actual sound. You know, holding it there, and keeping steady with the vamp."[44]

Ben Sisario of The New York Times writes: "on songs like 'Cold Sweat' and 'Mother Popcorn' he perfected a light-touch style filled with the off-kilter syncopations sometimes called ghost notes."[3] According to National Public Radio, "the grooves the two drummers (Stubblefield and Starks) created have inspired generations of artists — not just in funk, but in hip-hop, where their steady but intricate patterns make natural material for sampling."[4] He was awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate by the University of Wisconsin.[45][46]

Death

Stubblefield died on February 18, 2017, from kidney failure.[47][48] He survived cancer in 2000 and coped with kidney disease since 2002.[13][3] Pop icon Prince, who considered Stubblefield a drumming idol, was a major financial supporter and had paid for about $80,000 of the drummer's healthcare costs, it was disclosed in 2016, since Stubblefield had no health insurance.[13][10] Stubblefield is survived by his wife Jody Hannon.[48]

Quotations

In a 1991 interview with Isthmus, Stubblefield said: "What influenced me mainly was sounds. Train tracks. Washing machines. I just put patterns against natural sounds, and that's what I do today. I could be walking down the street in time and put a drum pattern against it while I'm walking (...) That's the same thing I'm doing now when I sit down behind the drums. I put a pattern behind what everyone else is doing."[17]

Discography

Credits adapted from Allmusic, except as noted.[49]

As leader

  • The Revenge of the Funky Drummer (1997)
  • The Original Funky Drummer Breakbeat Album (2002)
  • The Original (2003)

As co-leader

  • Find the Groove (2001)[24]
  • Come Get Summa This (2006)[25]

As sideman

With Fred Wesley

  • Funk for Your Ass (2008)[28]

With James Brown selected works

With The J.B.'s

  • Bring the Funk on Down (1999)

With Ben Sidran

With Garbage

Instructional videos

  • Soul of the Funky Drummers (1999)

References

  1. ^ a b "Clyde Stubblefield, The World most sampled Drummer!". Drummerworld. Archived from the original on March 14, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Stubblefield, Clyde Austin". Madison.com. February 21, 2017. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Ben Sisario (March 29, 2011). "Living Legend Tries to Make a Living". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 6, 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The Original Funky Drummers On Life With James Brown". NPR Music. January 5, 2015. Archived from the original on January 31, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d Susan Masino (2003). Famous Wisconsin Musicians. Badger Books. pp. 67–71. ISBN 9781878569882. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "CDBaby: The Original - Album Notes". cdbaby.com. 2003. Archived from the original on March 1, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b David Stanoch (September 9, 2010). "Where Old School Meets New – The Timeless Rhythm of Clyde Stubblefield". vicfirth.com. Archived from the original on October 9, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  8. ^ Chris Kelsey. "Allmusic: Clyde Stubblefield - Biography". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Billy Jam (June 14, 2010). "The Track That Built Hip-Hop: James Brown Band's Clyde Stubblefield's Funky Drummer". Amoeblog. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Daniel Kreps (February 18, 2017). "Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown's 'Funky Drummer,' Dead at 73". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Theft or Tribute – Copyright Criminals Classroom Module – video". Independent Lens, PBS. February 4, 2013. Archived from the original on November 28, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2017. 
  12. ^ Scott Thill (January 19, 2010). "Copyright Criminals Charts Hip-Hop's Cultural, Legal Influence". wired.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved June 29, 2016. 
  13. ^ a b c Gayle Worland (April 27, 2016). "Family: Prince paid off medical bills for Madison's 'Funky Drummer,' Clyde Stubblefield". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b David Medaris (April 28, 2011). "Clyde Stubblefield's funky farewell". Isthmus.com. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Clyde Stubblefield Band". broadjam.com. Archived from the original on March 25, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c Tom Alesia (July 28, 2009). "Battling the Blues He Beat Cancer, But Now R&B Legend Clyde Stubblefield Needs a New Kidney". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  17. ^ a b c Tom Laskin (April 7, 2011) [First published August 9, 1991]. "Clyde Stubblefield: The hardest-working man in Madison". Isthmus.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  18. ^ Ian S. Port (November 2, 2012). "Clyde Stubblefield, the "Funky Drummer," on Playing With James Brown and Getting Sampled By Hip-Hop". sfweekly.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Allmusic: The J.B.'s - Bring the Funk on Down". Allmusic.com. February 12, 2002. Archived from the original on July 11, 2015. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  20. ^ Ben Scholz (February 25, 2015). "Clyde Stubblefield: Samples of Funk". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 30, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Allmusic: Clyde Stubblefield - The Revenge of the Funky Drummer". Allmusic.com. 1997. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Allmusic: Clyde Stubblefield - The Original Funky Drummer Breakbeat Album". Allmusic. July 15, 2002. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Allmusic: Clyde Stubblefield - The Original". Allmusic. November 25, 2003. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  24. ^ a b "Allmusic: Funkmasters - Find the Groove". Allmusic.com. 2001. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b "Allmusic: Funkmasters - Come Get Summa This". Allmusic.com. May 17, 2006. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Clyde Stubblefield & John "Jab'o" Starks – Soul of the Funky Drummers". Hal Leonard Corp. 1999. ISBN 9780634059919. Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  27. ^ Scott Preston (December 22, 2007). "Show Review – James Brown Tribute Show 12/22/07". cincygroove.com. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b "Funk For Your Ass (A Tribute To The Godfather Of Soul)". Discogs.com. May 28, 2008. Archived from the original on February 10, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2015. (Fred Wesley featuring Jab'o Starks & Clyde Stubblefield with Bootsy Collins)
  29. ^ "Toontrack Music announces the release of the Funkmasters EZX". Toontrack. November 6, 2008. Archived from the original on February 1, 2009. Retrieved March 24, 2015. 
  30. ^ Kevin Kearns (May 18, 2007). "Clyde Stubblefield". Modern Drummer magazine. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Madison Ruby 2012 - Clyde Stubblefield". youtube.com, Confreaks channel. July 30, 2015. Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  32. ^ "IMDb: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – Episode 3.50". IMDb.com. March 29, 2011. Archived from the original on April 1, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Madison Ruby 2012 – Clyde Stubblefield". Confreaks.tv. Archived from the original on April 14, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2017. 
  34. ^ Bob Jacobson (September 10, 2015). "Give the drummer some". Isthmus.com. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  35. ^ Gayle Worland (March 13, 2017). "Tributes to James Brown 'funk drummer' Clyde Stubblefield continue". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on March 18, 2017. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  36. ^ "The 20 Best Drummers of All Time". LA Weekly. November 11, 2014. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  37. ^ Gayle Worland (October 25, 2013). "Madison's 'Groovemaster' still center stage". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on November 27, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  38. ^ "Yamaha Honors Funky Drummers Starks And Stubblefield". usa.yamaha.com. December 12, 2013. Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  39. ^ "Tickets On Sale Now for the 12th Annual MAMAs Awards!". Madison Area Music Association. 2015. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016. 
  40. ^ "2000 WAMI Winners". Wisconsin Area Music Industry. Archived from the original on December 4, 2000. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  41. ^ "100 Greatest Drummers of All Time". Rolling Stone. March 31, 2016. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  42. ^ Justin A. Williams (2015). The Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop. Cambridge Companions to Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 229. ISBN 9781107037465. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  43. ^ Jack Smith (2004). "The Roots The Tipping Point Review". BBC Music. Archived from the original on February 11, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  44. ^ Dana Scott (February 25, 2017). "Chuck D Reflects on Clyde Stubblefield's Impact as Hip Hop's Most Sampled Drummer". hiphopdx.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  45. ^ Käri Knutson (February 21, 2017). "UW to award Clyde Stubblefield posthumous honorary degree". University of Wisconsin-Madison. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved February 26, 2017. 
  46. ^ "Honorary degrees conferred by the University of Wisconsin-Madison" (PDF). secfac.wisc.edu. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 9, 2017. Retrieved March 26, 2017. 
  47. ^ Rob Thomas (February 18, 2017). "Madison funk music legend Clyde Stubblefield dies at 73". The Capital Times. Archived from the original on February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  48. ^ a b "Clyde Stubblefield, James Brown's 'Funky Drummer,' Dies at 73". billboard.com by Associated Press. February 18, 2017. Archived from the original on February 19, 2017. Retrieved February 19, 2017. 
  49. ^ "Allmusic: Clyde Stubblefield – credits". Allmusic.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 

External links

  • PBS documentary module – Sampling in hip-hop music, featuring Clyde Stubblefield and George Clinton
  • Questlove on Clyde Stubblefield
  • Stubblefield & Starks – Modern Drummer interview at the Wayback Machine (archived January 3, 2007)
  • Stubblefield at the Madison Ruby Conference, 2012 on YouTube
  • Partial list of songs that have sampled "Funky Drummer"
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