This has been an emotional week for funk fans everywhere. I love funk, and I know it's been hard on me.
First, Junie Morrison died.
Now Clyde Stubblefield died.
As I mentioned in one tweet, the nomination committee of the R&RHoF had no problem nominating the JB's. But the voters decided as a collective to pass on them. Stubblefield could have been inducted while he was alive. Now, who knows if the JB's will ever be nominated again, or if maybe they would be inducted under the Musical Excellence award.
Who is Stubblefield?
In short, he's James Brown's "Funky Drummer".
He joined the James Brown Band, and continued on with the J.B.'s. He left the band in 1971 and settled down in Madison, Wisconsin for the rest of his life. He formed the Clyde Stubblefield Band that performed Mondays. He retired from the band in 2011, and his son Brett Stubblefield now heads the band.
He made a number of albums since leaving James Brown, sometimes with J.B.'s/James Brown Band alumni. However, when hip hop sampled his funky drumbeats, he saw none of the money because James Brown put his name on the copyright.
Harkening back to the late Prince, as Stubblefield's health problems increased, Prince in 2009 paid off $90,000 of Stubblefield's health bills without ever having met the man. Prince did it because Stubblefield's drumming meant that much to him. The only condition Prince asked was that it would be kept private, and Stubblefield only mentioned it after Prince died.
Drummer Clyde Stubblefield died 19 Feb 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin, of kidney failure at the age of 73.
Stubblefield lived in Madison, Wisconsin from 1971 to his death in 2017.  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.Since the 1970s Stubblefield has 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. He performed and recorded with members of The J.B.'s including Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker and "Jabo" Starks. The group released the album Bring the Funk on Down in 1999. From the early 1990s to 2015 he performed on the nationally syndicated public radio show Whad'Ya Know?
Love those footnotes, eh? I could remove them, but for some reason that doesn't feel right, even though you'd have to go to the entry to be able to see what they referenced.
Stubblefield, while a member of Brown's backing unit, performed on the funk legend's classic cuts like "Cold Sweat," "Ain't It Funky Now," "I Got the Feelin'" and Brown's landmark LP Cold Sweat and Sex Machine.However, it's a 20-second drum break, a snippet of a Stubblefield solo found on Brown's 1970 single for "Funky Drummer," that marked the drummer's biggest impact on music.The drum break served as the backbeat for countless hip-hop tracks, ranging from Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," "Bring the Noise" and "Rebel Without a Cause" to N.W.A's "F*** tha Police" and Dr. Dre's "Let Me Ride" to LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out," Run-D.M.C.'s "Run's House" and Beastie Boys' "Shadrach." Even Ed Sheeran's "Shirtsleeves" and George Michael's "Freedom '90" were among the over 1,000 songs to sample Stubblefield's beat.
Stubblefield played on James Brown tracks including ‘Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine’ and ‘Cold Sweat.’ His most well-known work is arguably the drum solo on ‘Funky Drummer’.The solo went on the be sampled prominently by LL Cool J on ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’; Public Enemy on ‘Bring the Noise’ and ‘Fight the Power’ and N.W.A. on ‘**@@ tha Police’. Prince, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre, George Michael, and many others also incorporated his beat into their songs.
You may read the obituary by the Associated Press by clicking here. Hmmm. . . the Associated Press usually names the reporters and editors of each one of their articles. However, when other news websites reprint an AP article, they leave off the reporters and editors.
Clyde Stubblefield, a drummer for James Brown who created one of the most widely sampled drum breaks ever, died Saturday. He was 73.His wife, Jody Hannon, told The Associated Press that Stubblefield died of kidney failure at a Madison, Wisconsin, hospital around noon. He had been suffering from kidney disease for 10 years, and had been hospitalized for a few days, she said.
But despite providing the backbeat to an entire genre, Stubblefield never got much public acclaim or any money at all from the long, strange afterlife of his work on “Funky Drummer,” as he explained to SF Weekly in a 2012 interview:All the drum patterns I played with Brown was my own, he never told me how to play or what to play. 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. … I think that was disrespectful. And not even mentioning my name—“Clyde on the drums, or playing the drums,” or whatever. “These are his drum patterns.” It got mentioned nowhere.
You may read the obituary by Sam Sodomsky of Pitchfork by clicking here. Notice that the part I quote is a quote by R&RHoF nominator Questlove of the Roots.
“There have been faster, and there have been stronger, but Clyde Stubblefield has a marksman’s left hand unlike any drummer in the 20th century,” Questlove said in a 2011 interview: “It is he who defined funk music.”
Perhaps most notably, Public Enemy's production crew The Bomb Squad made "Funky Drummer" the backbone of 1989's "Fight the Power." That song in turn became the unofficial theme music of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, echoing through the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant and foreshadowing the fiery confrontation in the film's climax.Sampling was still a legal gray area in the late '80s, and Stubblefield's contributions to hip-hop's evolving sound went largely unrecognized — and uncompensated — for decades. In 2009, a PBS documentary called Copyright Criminals aimed to bring the legacy of Stubblefield and other sampled musicians to light. Two years later, the drummer joined Public Enemy's Chuck D and The Roots on the stage of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon — where, at long last, he performed his part of "Fight the Power" in the flesh.