From 1969 to 1974, Alan Leeds was James Brown's publicist and tour director, centered in the King Records office where the legendary "Funky Drummer" track was recorded. Alan sheds light on the recording session, the musicians and engineers involved, and details on the studio itself, all based on his first-hand experience. Be sure to listen to the end for an amazing discovery from Alan's incredible archives!
"Clyde was a hugely influential drummer, going back to 'Cold Sweat' in 1967, with the famous 'give the drummer some' break... Today you can't even call yourself a drummer if you can't play that kind of beat."
Clyde Stubblefield recording at King Studios, 1968. On the left is drummer Nate Jones, guitarist Jimmy Nolan on the right.
James Brown at King Studios, 1968.
James Brown and Production Manager Bob Hobgood, circa 1968.
James Brown and Engineer Ron Lenhoff. Read a great interview with Lenhoff here.
James Brown live, circa 1968. Drummer John "Jabo" Starks is on the left, Clyde Stubblefield on the right.
King Records complex at 1540 Brewster Avenue, circa 1968.
Main entrance to King Records and James Brown Productions offices.
"There Was a Time: James Brown, the Chitlin' Circuit, and Me" by Alan Leeds.
"There's no way in the world that anyone could have had any sense that this drum break would live on the way it has... In James Brown's mind, it was basically just a flop."
Recorded on the same session as "Funky Drummer," November 20, 1969 at King Studios.
The Xavier University Library in Cincinnati has an amazing online exhibition dedicated to the legacy of King Records, located here. Alan discusses these 1960s floor plans of the King building from that exhibition.
Ground floor, showing the studio complex and approximation location of the James Brown Productions office.
Second floor. Note the "Line Echo Chamber" top left.
"You're not going to believe this, because I didn't believe it either. But I actually found the original tracking sheet from the 'Funky Drummer' session!"
King Studios - Cincinnati, Ohio
November 20, 1969
[Photo courtesy Alan Leeds Archives]
James Brown generally performed with two or more drummers at a time, including Nate Jones. Here he is performing the "Cold Sweat" break on the Mike Douglas Show in 1969.
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