The drummer who helped give some of James Brown's most indelible hits their signature snap, John "Jabo" Starks, has died at age 79. Starks' manager, Kathie Williams, confirmed that he died at his home in Mobile, Alabama, after battling leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes, according to The New York Times.
Working alongside Clyde "Funky Drummer" Stubblefield and on his own, Starks played on some of Brown's most beloved hits during his run, including "Super Bad," "Say It Loud -- I'm Black and I'm Proud," "Cold Sweat," "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine," Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothing" and "The Payback." His contributions have lived on on countless songs that sample his work by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J, Kendrick Lamar and the Roots, among many others. In addition, Starks performed on recordings by a wide variety of R&B, soul, blues and funk acts, including Bobby Blue Bland, B.B. King, Bobby Byrd and The JBs.
John Henry Starks was born in Jackson, Alabama, on Oct. 26, 1938, and fell in love with the drums after watching a marching band in a Mardi Gras parade in Alabama as a child. He taught himself to play on an improvised drum kit made up of a bass and snare drum tied to a chair and cymbals on a stand, but never took formal drum lessons, according to the Times.