Two upcoming events will honor the memory and life of Clyde Stubblefield, renowned funk drummer for the legendary James Brown and longtime Madison resident. Stubblefield died Saturday, February 18 from kidney failure and was 73 years old.
A “Celebration of Life” event will be held on Friday, February 24, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Madison Concourse Hotel Grand Ballroom. Hosting and MCing the event will be radio personality Michael Feldman.
Then on Monday, February 27 from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the High Noon Saloon, The Clyde Stubblefield All Stars will perform the hits Stubblefield recorded with James Brown along with a selection of Stubblefield’s original songs. Special guest stars will also perform at this event. The show on February 27 is a fundraiser to defray Stubblefield’s funeral expenses. Copies of the Clyde Stubblefield Scholarship Fund CD will be available for purchase.
Clyde Austin Stubblefield was born April 18, 1943 in Tennessee. A native of Chattanooga, he was a professional drummer by the time he was a teenager. He moved to Macon, Ga. and began playing with Otis Redding. There, he was introduced to Brown and became a permanent member of his band. Stubblefield performed on James Brown’s albums of the civil rights era, including “Cold Sweat,” “I Got the Feelin’,” “It’s a Mother,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and Proud” and “Sex Machine.”
Perhaps Stubblefield’s most profound impact on music was the song “Funky Drummer,” recorded in 1969. His 20 second drum break in that song ended up being sampled in Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90,” Kenny G’s “G-Bop” and thousands more. The New York Times wrote “It made him perhaps the most sampled drummer in history.”
Clyde Stubblefield settled in Madison shortly after he left Brown’s band. He played locally at nightclubs and performed regularly on the Wisconsin Public Radio program “Whad’ Ya Know?” hosted by Michael Feldman. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Area Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2000, and a pair of his drumsticks are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
A crowdfunding campaign has been set up at https://www.gofundme.com/wqmy9-clyde-stubblefield-funeral-fund for those wishing to donate to help pay for funeral costs and family expenses.