Clyde Stubblefield, a drummer for James Brown and the creator behind "Funky Drummer," one of hip-hop’s most sampled songs, is dead at the age of 73. According to Rolling Stone, Stubblefield’s wife, Jody Hannon, confirmed to the magazine that he died of kidney failure.
Questlove and Booty Collins, who performed alongside Stubblefield on Sex Machine, provided the following statements upon hearing about his death:
Throughout hip-hop’s history, you’ll be able to recognize Stubblefield’s break on “Funky Drummer.” It was sampled on songs by Public Enemy ("Fight the Power," "Bring the Noise," and "Rebel Without a Cause"), N.W.A. (“Fuck tha Police"), Dr. Dre (“Let Me Ride”), LL Cool J (“Mama Said Knock You Out), and Run-DMC (“Run’s House"), among others. The breakbeat has been widely used outside of the genre as well. Check out our compilation of 20 great uses of it here.
While part of Brown’s backing band, Stubblefield performed on songs such as "Cold Sweat," "Ain't It Funky Now," "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," and "I Got the Feelin'.” He’s also credited on Brown’s Cold Sweat (1967) and Sex Machine (1970). Critics noted his impact on music on Twitter:
In April 2016, Billboard revealed that Stubblefield received a large donation from Prince to pay for his expensive medical bills. At the time, Stubblefield, who was diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago, had $90,000 worth of hospital bills, and Prince graciously footed $80,000 of that amount to help pay for his chemotherapy for bladder cancer. It was reported that Stubblefield was one of his “drumming idols.”