John "Jabo" Starks

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John "Jabo" Starks (born October 26, 1938) is an American funk and blues drummer. He is 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 has also backed many of the artists produced or managed by Brown, most notably Lyn Collins, The JBs, and Bobby Byrd. Along with his colleague Stubblefield, Starks ranks as one of the most sampled drummers on contemporary hip hop and R&B recordings.

In his long career, Starks has played with a number of major figures of the blues, including Bobby Blue 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". He has continued to work with Stubblefield, with whom he recorded an instructional video and a recent CD as The Funkmasters.

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

In 2000, Starks appeared on "Fire", an eclectic pop-funk-gospel-psychedelic album project by "Singer at Large" Johnny J. Blair (Starks, Stubblefield and Blair previously worked together on live Funkmasters gigs).

In 2007, Starks and Stubblefield joined Bootsy Collins and Bernie Worrell for the Superbad recording.

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

More recently he and Stubblefield completed a CD with Fred Wesley, which was released in 2008 by Columbia Entertainment Music, Inc. in Tokyo.

John Jabo Starks is a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Cottage Hill, at 5051 Ebenezer Dr, Mobile, Alabama.


  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. 

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