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John “Jab’o” Starks, legendary James Brown drummer and RockWalk inductee, has died

John “Jab’o” Starks, legendary James Brown drummer and RockWalk inductee, has died

We’re saddened to hear of the passing of our friend John “Jab’o” Starks - legendary James Brown drummer and 2017 Rock Walk inductee. Together, he and fellow James Brown drummer Clyde Stubblefield revolutionized live and recorded drum performance – often credited as paving the way for modern rhythm standards in hip-hop, soul, funk and beyond. The Guitar Center family is honored to have worked with him.

Jabo with James Brown
John “Jab’o” Starks (right) with legendary soul singer James Brown. (Photo courtesy of John Starks)

Fellow drummer Aaron Spears had the chance to perform with Starks at the 2011 Guitar Center Drum Off. He remembers Starks:

"The fact that Jab took the time to actually speak with me and positively invest wisdom meant more to me than anything I’ve experienced. Coming to my wedding, speaking to me in good times and bad, praying for me and my family, and sharing stories about recording with one of music’s blueprints altered the way that I saw him. He was always the icon, but also my friend.“

John “Jab’o” Starks and Aaron Spears performing at 2011’s Drum Off Grand Finals:

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