Unsung Presents: Music & The Movement

Remembering the songs of the movement

James Brown Drummer Clyde Stubblefield Dies at 73

by James Hill

February 20, 2017

Public Enemy, LL Cool J, N.W.AClyde Stubblefield made them all famous.

How?

This:

Known as the most sampled piece of music ever, Stubblefield’s performance on “Funky Drummer” was a staple of 1980’s hip-hop and today, we say farewell to the innovator who died Saturday at 73 of kidney failure.

Despite being praised by folks like Questlove, Stubblefield’s name was never associated with the oft-sampled music so he said he never really benefited. In an interview with “SF Weekly” Stubblefield said “I just played my own patterns, and the hip-hoppers and whatever, the people that used the material probably paid him (James Brown), maybe. But we got nothing. I got none of it. It was all my drum product.”

Indeed, Stubblefield’s financial situation was bad enough that Prince quietly stepped in to offer his drumming idol more than $90,000 for medical expenses due to kidney problems.

While our words and actions can’t bring him back, you can see more of his legendary work when Unsung: Tribute to James Brown premieres Wednesday at 8/7c.

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