Timothy Norris/Getty ImagesJohn “Jab’o” Starks, one of the drummers who helped the late James Brown create some of his biggest hits, died Tuesday, The New York Times reports. He was 79.

Starks died in his home in Mobile, Alabama, after a battle with leukemia and myelodyplasic syndromes, his manager Kathie Williams confirmed.

The self-taught drummer lent his talents to Brown’s hits like “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “The Payback,” “Cold Sweat,” “Say It Loud — I’m Black and Proud,” and “Super Bad” between 1965 and the mid-1970s.

He worked closely with Brown’s other famous drummer, Clyde “Funky Drummer” Stubblefield, who died last year. Starks explained his and Stubblefield’s relationship more as more partners than competitors.

“You have to understand this, we’re two different drummers,” he said in a 2015 interview. Starks said his inspiration came from the blues, while Stubblefield played soul and funk.

While working with the Brown, Starks was known for often catching the Godfather of Soul’s mistakes.

“Sometimes James would miss a change or a cue, but I didn’t,” he said in another 2015 interview. “He’d turn around and say, ‘You got me, Jab!’ “

After making hits with Brown, Starks continued working with Stubblefield, creating their own duo — The Funkmasters — and even worked on music for the hit movie Superbad.

Starks grew up in Jackson, Alabama, and found his love for percussion at a young age. He started playing with artists like Smiley Lewis and John Lee Hooker.

He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, and two grandchildren.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.