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Jab'o Starks - long-time James Brown drummer

On James Brown


Jab'o Starks joined James Brown in 1965 and played with him for more than 11 years. He quickly gained a reputation as one of the best drummers in R&B. Before Brown, he played with Bobby "Blue" Bland.

Oh, man, it was a huge difference. Bobby was blues and swing blues, James was funk. That's a major change of pace. I got there and James already had four drummers. And I said, "What do you need me for?" And he said, "Don't worry, Jab'o, I've got plans for you." I sat and watched four or five gigs before I even tried to play. I had to learn the show, you understand?

If you got James away from everyone around him, he was a much different person. He cared a lot about a lot of people. But anytime he was around his entourage, he was a different person than he was one-on-one. A lot of times in the dressing room, it'd be he and I, and we'd sit down and talk.

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