Perfecting The Beat With Clyde Stubblefield, Drummer For James Brown

Clyde Stubblefield didn’t receive nearly as much recognition as he deserved when he played with James Brown.

Clyde Stubblefield is responsible for one of the most famous sampled drum beats in music history. His solo on the James Brown song, “Funky Drummer,” has been used by some of the most famous early hip hop artists according to a recent article produced by the SF Weekly. Ian S. Port had the opportunity to interview Stubblefield recently before a show in San Fransisco about his experiences as the drummer for James Brown from 1965 to 1971. The interview provided interesting commentary about how he was treated as a drummer in Brown’s band and how unfair it was for musicians in regard to royalties. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did!

Ian S. Port, writer for the SF Weekly, produced an article featuring an interview with Clyde Stubblefield who was one of the drummers for James Brown. Check out the full article at

While they’re all fantastic musicians, Stubblefield, 69, is especially interesting: As Brown’s drummer from 1965 to 1971, he played on many of Brown’s biggest hits, including “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” and “Ain’t It Funky Now.” But his largest contribution to musical culture arguably came with the Brown song “Funky Drummer,” where, about five and a half minutes in, Stubblefield played a short, minimal, and hugely funky drum solo. Those 20 seconds became what’s likely the most sampled piece of music in history, appearing on an almost countless number of early hip-hop records, including Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” and “Fight the Power,” and many other songs by the likes of the Beastie Boys, Run D.M.C., and more. But because Stubblefield didn’t any songwriting credit for the song — and due to the early copyright looseness around sampling in hip-hop — the funky drummer didn’t see much in the way of royalties from his classic beat.

I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I did. Playing drums professionally during that time must have been pretty rough if you were looking for a fair share. Stay tuned for more coming your way at Play Drums By Ear.




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