100 Greatest Drummers of All Time

From rock thunder machines to punk powerhouses, we count down the kings and queens of slam

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Clyde Stubblefield and John
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Julie Snow/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty6/100

6. Clyde Stubblefield and John "Jabo" Starks

At the height of his band's rhythmic revolutions, Brown's percussion section was anchored by not one but two master drummers: the woefully underrated John "Jabo" Starks and Mr. Funky Drummer himself, Clyde Stubblefield. Starks began his career backing jazz and blues players, Stubblefield was an R&B man and, by coincidence, the two started with Brown's band just weeks apart. Each brought a distinctive style that complemented the other. Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson once told Rolling Stone that "Starks was the Beatles to Clyde's Stones. A clean shuffle drummer to Clyde's free-jazz left hand." Together, their partnership would help shape some of Brown's greatest songs, including "Cold Sweat," "Superbad" and of course "Funky Drummer." Their innovations would be felt again as they dictated the entire feel of hip-hop's Golden Era.

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