Clyde Stubblefield and John “Jabo” Starks, the best Duo Ever


Clyde Stubblefield
Clyde Stubblefield

There has been a huge number of drummers in history, but very few compared to the legacy left by Clyde Stubblefield.

It is hard to talk about him without mentioning John “Jabo” Starks because these are two drummers who always worked together. And it is possible that each of them was successful – though John is woefully underrated because of their collaborations and reason to stick together as a team.

John Starks Drumming
John Starks Drumming

Clyde became a force that would not be reckoned within the industry.

Clyde and Starks played for the Browns. And the height of the bands’ rhythmic evolution, it percussion section was held down by these two master drummer.

Clyde was always referred to as Mr. Funky Drummer, and it was easy to see why such a reference through his style. He is among a few drummers who enjoyed working in a team, more than solo projects.  

The relation between Starks and Stubblefield and how they turned out to be such a great team remains a great mystery even today.

On one side, we have Starks, who began his career backing jazz and blues players. Hence, it would be expected that he was to continue on the same path, which, amazingly, he did not.

Stubblefield, on the other hand, was an R & B man. He was already an established drummer by the time the duo met, which coincidentally came just weeks apart as they joined the Brown’s band. It was clear from the beginning that these two would leave an incredible mark not only in the band but across the music industry.

Each one of them had a unique style they brought on the table, and by merging their ideas, they featured among the most famous drummers of all time. They each had a complimentary style for one another, which greatly matched the band’s best styles.

Once Amir “Questlove” Thomson, had something to talk about, Stubblefield and Starks. He stated that Starks was the Beatles to Clyde’s stones, adding that Stark was a clean shuffle drummer to complimented Clyde’s free-jazz left hand. Hence, the pair worked better together than any other drummer would.

Clyde Stubblefield Stage
Clyde Stubblefield Stage

This is why their contribution to the Browns’ growth and development is widely appreciated. It was all about their coordination and how they worked together. And even though Clyde remained the most recognized member of the band, it is clear the two had a huge compliment to each other’s success.

Their partnership had a vast contribution to shaping some of Brown’s greatest songs. A piece like “Cold Sweat,” “Superbad,” and the legendary “Funky Drummer” all become major hits because of their contribution.

In each piece, they came up with a unique style of playing that left everyone requesting for more. And their time in the studio has borne so much for the band as well as the industry.

They dictated the entire feel of hip-hops Golden Era, letting their innovations flow through ages. Again, it is not their style that has been emulated by most subsequent drummers who wished to be greater in what they do.

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