John "Jabo" Starks

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Jabo Starks
Birth name John Henry Starks
Born (1937-10-26)October 26, 1937
Jackson, Alabama, U.S.
Died May 1, 2018(2018-05-01) (aged 80)
Mobile, Alabama, U.S.
Genres Funk, blues
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Associated acts James Brown

John Henry "Jabo" Starks (October 26, 1937 – May 1, 2018) was an American funk and blues drummer best known for playing with James Brown.[1]


Starks played on many of Brown's biggest hits, either as the sole drummer or in tandem with Clyde Stubblefield, including "The Payback", "Sex Machine", "Super Bad", and "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing". He also backed many of the artists produced or managed by Brown, most notably Lyn Collins, The J.B.'s, and Bobby Byrd.[2] Along with his colleague Stubblefield, Starks ranks as one of the most sampled drummers on contemporary hip hop and R&B recordings.[3]

In his long career, Starks played with a number of major figures of the blues, including Bobby Bland and B.B. King. Starks appeared on some of Bland's most successful records, among them "I Pity the Fool" (1961), "Turn On Your Love Light" and "Stormy Monday Blues". With Stubblefield, he recorded an instructional video.[4]

Starks lived in Mobile, Alabama and performed in Grayton Beach, Florida. When not touring or recording, he performed five nights a week at the Picolo Restaurant and Red Bar, a local restaurant.[2]

On December 22, 2007, Starks, Stubblefield, and Bootsy Collins performed in Covington, Kentucky for the first tribute concert remembering James Brown.[5]

Starks died on May 1, 2018, at his home in Mobile, Alabama, at the age of 80.[6]

Selected discography[edit]

With Johnny J. Blair

  • Fire (CJAM Productions, 2000)

With The Funkmasters

  • Find The Groove (Funkmasters, 2001)
  • Come Get Summa This (Funkmasters, 2006)

With Fred Wesley


  1. ^ Payne, Jim; Weinger, Harry (16 November 2006). The Great Drummers of R&B Funk & Soul. Mel Bay Publications. pp. 232–234. ISBN 978-0-7866-7303-2. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Blistein, Jon (May 1, 2018). "James Brown Drummer John 'Jabo' Starks Dead at 79". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X. 
  3. ^ "John 'Jabo' Starks Biography". Drummerworld. Retrieved May 1, 2018. 
  4. ^ Starks, John; Stubblefield, Clyde (2004). Soul of the Funky Drummers (DVD). Hal Leonard Corporation. ASIN B0002IQM70. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Gail (December 19, 2007). "Bootsy Collins Anchoring James Brown Tribute". Billboard. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  6. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (May 1, 2018). "Jabo Starks, Drummer for James Brown, Dies at 79". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]