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!

Music Discussed in This Podcast

"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."

Watch Intro Video

"Cold Sweat" (Live) - Clyde Stubblefield Solo

Images from the Alan Leeds Archives

Studio shot - Clyde Stubblefield on Vox Drums, Nate Jones and Jimmy Nolan at King Studios, Cincinnati with James Brown 1968

Clyde Stubblefield recording at King Studios, 1968. On the left is drummer Nate Jones, guitarist Jimmy Nolan on the right.

Studio shot - James Brown at King Studios control room in front of 8-track tape machines, 1968

James Brown at King Studios, 1968.

Studio shot - James Brown and Production Manager Bob Hobgood in front of Harrison Consoles mixing board at King Studios, Cincinnati 1968

James Brown and Production Manager Bud Hobgood, circa 1968.

Studio shot - James Brown and King Studios engineer Ron Lenhoff in control room in front of 8-track recording gear, Cincinnati 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 and Starday-King  Recording Studio entrance, Cincinnati Ohio, 1968

King Records complex at 1540 Brewster Avenue, circa 1968.

Entrance to James Brown Productions offices at King Studios building, Cincinnati Ohio, 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 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.

King Records Floor Plans

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.

King Records Floor Plan, 1960s - First Floor. Cincinnati, Ohio

Ground floor, showing the studio complex and approximation location of the James Brown Productions office.

King Studio Floor Plan 1960s - Second Floor. Cincinnati, Ohio

Second floor. Note the "Line Echo Chamber" top left.

Original "Funky Drummer" Tracking Sheet

"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!"

Original James Brown Funky Drummer tracking sheet from the 8-track recording session, King Studios 1969. Clyde Stubblefield played drums on the breakbeat. Cincinnati Ohio

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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