Clyde Stubblefield, Most Sampled Drummer in Hip-Hop, Dead at 73

"The spirit of the greatest grace note left hand snare drummer will live on thru all of us," Questlove wrote in tribute.
February 19, 2017, 4:15pm

Clyde Stubblefield, the creator of the most sampled beat in hip-hop history and long-time drummer for the James Brown Band, has died at the age of 73.  Rolling Stone reports that Stubblefield died Saturday and that the cause of death was kidney failure.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1943, Stubblefield played professionally as a teenager before working with Eddie Kirkland and Otis Redding in the early 1960s. His career took off in 1965 when he joined John "Jabo" Starks as one of a handful of drummers in the James Brown Band. Brown quickly settled on Starks and Stubblefield as the band's percussive backbone and the two would go on to lay down the beats in many of the Godfather of Soul's most memorable tracks.

One track in particular, however, has cemented Stubblefield's legacy. The 1970 single "Funky Drummer," with its syncopated break, went on to become the most sampled track in hip-hop, serving as the beat for Public Enemy's "Fight the Power," N.W.A's "Fuck tha Police," De la Soul's "The Magic Number" and Run-D.M.C.'s "Run's House." On top of the beat's near ever-presence in hip-hop, the "Funky Drummer" beat also found its way onto the Powerpuff Girls theme and Kenny G's "G-Bop." According to, it's been lifted into over 1000 tracks.

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