When I was a teenager, I used to rehearse with two other drummers both of whom were R&B players or what my friend Benny Valerio called “soul musicians”. I had a big drum kit and was very much a rock player, or at least I wanted to be. I suffered from what we called BS, or the “busy syndrome”.
The first time we rehearsed together, the other two guys let me bang away and then one of them walked up to my kit while I was playing. Without saying a word he began to dismantle my drum set until all that was left was bass drum, high hat and snare. I stopped playing and asked him what in the world he thought he was doing. He said, “If you can’t do it with bass drum, high hat and snare, then you are nowhere.”
Truer words never spoken and that was probably the best lesson I ever took. We spent many hours working on James Brown grooves laid down by Clyde Stubblefield. Fast forward about eight years and I got to open for Mr. Brown for a few dates which was a real thrill (Maceo, Sweet Charles, Fred Wesley and General Patton).
RIP Clyde Stubblefield, one of the most influential drummers of all time. He certainly was for me.