Drummer Jabo Starks Dies

Jabo Starks
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Guitar Center
– Jabo Starks
Jabo Starks speaks onstage during Guitar Center’s 28th Annual Drum-Off Finals Event at The Novo by Microsoft on January 14, 2017 in Los Angeles.

Drummer Jabo Starks, who was best known for performing in James Brown’s band during the Godfather of Soul’s heyday, died May 1. He passed away at his home in Mobile, Ala., at age 79, after being in hospice care for about a week, according to the New York Times. Starks’ manager told the Times he had leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.  

Starks, a self-taught musician who received little formal training, began his career in the mid-1950s working with blues artists including John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf.
After playing in Bobby “Blue” Bland’s band, Starks joined Brown’s group from 1965 to the mid-1970s. Starks was featured on some of Brown’s biggest hits including “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine” and “Super Bad.”
Starks shared drumming duties in Brown’s band with Clyde Stubblefield. The Times points out that Stark’s style “was more straightforward, without some of Mr. Stubblefield’s flourishes but it drove Brown’s songs and got audiences on their feet.” 
Starks went on to tour and record with B.B. King in the mid-1970s and later reconnected with Stubblefield to form the duo Funkmasters. 
The drummer last took the stage in March at the Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Fla., according to the Times.