Two funk giants have left us: R.I.P., Junie Morrison and Clyde „Funky Drummer“ Stubblefield!
Last year’s passing of Prince (blog post in German), Sharon Jones, and Bernie Worrell have been huge blows to funk and soul fans already. The sad news continue: On January 21, 2017, ex-Ohio Player and P.Funk All-Star Junie Morrison died, followed by Clyde Stubblefield (this Saturday, February 18).
One of Junie Morrison’s major claims to fame was the Funkadelic classic „One Nation Under A Groove“:
Here is how Parliament/Funkadelic’s George Clinton remembers Junie:
As a tribute to this extraordinary artist, I prepared a Spotify playlist:
For some background on Junie:
The New York Times‘ Jon Caramanica on Clyde Stubblefield:
It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”
It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and ’90s.
Watch this great session with Clyde, Fred Thomas (bass), John Medeski (B3 organ), Fred Wesley (trombone), and John Scofield (guitar):
Clyde and his James Brown drumming partner John „Jabo“ Starks:
My tribute to Clyde on Spotify:
Collection of Clyde-related links:
If I had to pick a single song to demonstrate the magic of James Brown’s live performances, I’d choose „Cold Sweat“ from the album „Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68“. It’s 13 minutes of pure funky joy – much superior to the (shorter) versions on the Apollo albums (Live At The Apollo (1962)/Live at the Apollo, 1962, Live at the Apollo (1968)). JB even slips in quotes of „Soul Man“ and „Ride Your Pony“.
AllMusic.com says: „Those who were lucky enough to see him live usually got what they paid for and then some, and he certainly goes that extra mile on Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68. (…) Brown was at his creative and commercial peak, and his five-star band boasted such dynamos as guitarist Jimmy Nolen, trombonist Fred Wesley, and saxmen Maceo Parker/Maceo Parker, St. Clair Pinckney, and Alfred „Pee Wee“ Ellis. It’s too bad that most of these red-hot performances went unreleased for 30 years.“
Junie Morrison: Album cover „When We Do“
Clyde Stubblefield: Performing with Michael Feldman’s trio in 2005. Photo: Paul VanDerWerf, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license