Clyde Stubblefield has died at the age of 73 due to kidney failure, as reported by Rolling Stone. He was one of the most influential funk drummers and is best known for his iconic solo on James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” seen below. This solo was sampled in some of the most recognized hip-hop songs of all time. The songs include: LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”, N.W.A.‘s “Fuck tha Police” and Public Enemy‘s “Bring the Noise” and “Fight the Power.” Other artists that have incorporated his beat were Prince, the Beastie Boys, Dr. Dre and George Michael, to name a few.
Stubblefield had this to say about his infamous time in the studio for the solo.
“We were sitting up in the studio, getting ready for a session, and I guess when I got set up I just started playing a pattern. Started playing something. The bassline came in and the guitar came in and we just had a rhythm going, and if Brown liked it, I just said, ‘Well, I’ll put something with it.'”
“All the drum patterns I played with Brown was my own; he never told me how to play or what to play,” Stubblefield said in an interview with SF Weekly in 2012. “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.”
Stubblefield also performed on a handful of other James Brown classics. These tracks include, “Cold Sweat,” “Ain’t It Funky Now,” “I Got the Feelin'” and his landmark LP Cold Sweat and Sex Machine.
The decline in health was not a surprise with Stubblefied, as he had been struggling with various issues since 2002. In the year mentioned he actually had his kidney removed. He also suffered from end-stage renal disease in the last decade.
As Questlove said in a twitter post seen below, “The spirit of the greatest grace note left hand snare drummer will live on thru all of us.”