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Bernard Purdie

Bernard Purdie
Purdie (right) with saxophonist Tyrone Smith, 2009
Background information
Birth name Bernard Lee Purdie
Also known as
  • Bernard "Pretty" Purdie
  • Mississippi Bigfoot
Born (1939-06-11) June 11, 1939
Elkton, Maryland, U.S.
Genres Rock, R&B, Funk, Soul
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums
Years active 1958–present
Labels A&M, Atco, EMI, Capitol
Associated acts James Brown, Jeff Beck, Hummingbird, Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin, Gil Scott-Heron, King Curtis, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Brecker, Quincy Jones, Hall & Oates, Isaac Hayes, Cat Stevens, Hair, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (soundtrack)
Website .com.bernardpurdiewww

Bernard Lee "Pretty" Purdie (born June 11, 1939) is an American session drummer, and is considered an influential and innovative exponent of funk.[1] He is known for his precise musical time keeping[2] and his signature use of triplets against a half-time backbeat: the "Purdie Shuffle."[3] He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.[4]

Purdie recorded Soul Drums (1968) as a band leader and although he went on to record Alexander's Ragtime Band, the album remained unreleased until Soul Drums was reissued on CD in 2009 with the Alexander's Ragtime Band sessions. Other solo albums include Purdie Good (1971), Soul Is ... Pretty Purdie (1972) and the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Lialeh (1973).

In the mid-1990s he was a member of The 3B's, with Bross Townsend and Bob Cunningham.


  • Biography 1
  • Encounter Records 2
  • Drumming style 3
  • Discography 4
    • As leader/co-leader 4.1
    • As sideman 4.2
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


At an early age Purdie began hitting cans with sticks and learned the elements of drumming techniques from overhearing lessons being given by Leonard Heywood. He later took lessons from Heywood and played in Heywood's big band. Purdie's other influences at that time were Papa Jo Jones, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Joe Marshall, Art Blakey,[5] as well as Cozy Cole, Sticks Evans, Panama Francis, Louis Bellson, and Herbie Lovelle.[6]

In 1961 he moved from his home town of [8] to give them a punchier sound for the US market.[9]

Purdie was contracted by arranger Sammy Lowe to play a session with James Brown in 1965 and recording session records also show that Purdie played on "Ain't That A Groove"[10] at the same session.[5] This was one of several sessions he played with Brown and the track "Kansas City" from Brown's album Cold Sweat (1967), displays one of the most sophisticated and driving shuffles recorded for Brown's catalogue. Purdie is also credited on the albums Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud (1969)[11] and Get on the Good Foot (1972).[12]

Purdie started working with Aretha Franklin as musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years,[1] as well as drumming for Franklin's opening act, King Curtis and The King Pins. In 1970 he performed with both bands at the Fillmore West; the resulting live recordings were released as Aretha Live at the Fillmore West (1971) and King Curtis's Live at Fillmore West (1971).[13] His best known track with Franklin was "Rock Steady",[14] on which he played what he described as "a funky and low down beat". Of his time with Franklin he once commented that "backing her was like floating in seventh heaven".[5]

Purdie was credited on the soundtrack album for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) and more recently he was the drummer for the 2009 Broadway revival of Hair and appeared on the associated Broadway cast recording.[15]

Purdie has been a resident of New Jersey, living in Edison, Teaneck and Springfield Township.[16]

Encounter Records

In 1973 Purdie founded Encounter Records and released five albums

Drumming style

Purdie shuffle variants[18] About this sound Play  .
Purdie shuffle variant[19] About this sound Play  .

Purdie is known as a groove drummer with immaculate timing and makes use of precision half note, backbeats, and grooves.[2] Purdie's signature sixteenth note hi-hat lick pish-ship, pish-ship, pish-ship is distinct.[5] He often employs a straight eight groove sometimes fusing several influences such as swing, blues and funk. He created the now well-known drum pattern Purdie Half-Time Shuffle that is a blues shuffle variation with the addition of syncopated ghost notes on the snare drum.[19] Variations on this shuffle can be heard on songs such as Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain", Death Cab For Cutie's "Grapevine Fires", and Toto's "Rosanna" (Rosanna shuffle).[19][20] Purdie's shuffle can be heard on Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters"[21] and "Home At Last".[19]


As leader/co-leader

  • Soul Drums (Date, 1968)
  • Purdie Good! (Prestige, 1971)
  • Stand By Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get) - with The Playboys (Mega, 1971)
  • Soul Is...Pretty Purdie (Flying Dutchman, 1972)
  • Shaft (Prestige, 1973)
  • Lialeh / O.S.T. (Bryan, 1974)
  • Delights Of The Garden - with The Last Poets (Douglas/Celluloid, 1975)
  • Purdie As A Picture (Kilarnock, 1993)
  • Coolin' 'N Groovin' (Lexington/West 47th, 1993)
  • Bernard Purdie's Jazz Groove Sessions In Toyko (Lexington/West 47th, 1993)
  • After Hours with The 3B's (3B's #3B-001, 1993)
  • Soothin' 'N Groovin' with The 3B's (3B's #3B-002, 1994)
  • The Hudson River Rats (3B's #3B-003, 1995)
  • Fatback! The Jazz Funk Masters Featuring Bernard Purdie (Seven Seas, 1995)
  • Kick 'N Jazz (Drum Beat Blocks, 1996)
  • Soul To Jazz I (Act, 1996)
  • Soul To Jazz II (Act, 1997)
  • In The Pocket (P-Vine, 1997)
  • The Hudson River Rats: Get It While You Can (3B's #3B-004, 1999)
  • King Of The Beat (3B's #3B-005, 2001)
  • Purdie Good Cookin' - with Purdie's Powerhouse (3B's #3B-006, 2003)

As sideman


  1. ^ a b Feather, Leonard and Gitler, Ira. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press US. p. 541. 
  2. ^ a b Wynn, Ron. "Bernard Purdie". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  3. ^ Hyatt, Greg and Mitchell, Stan. Get Locked. Alfred Publishing. p. 95. 
  4. ^ "Modern Drummer’s Readers Poll Archive, 1979–2014".  
  5. ^ a b c d e f Payne, Jim and Weinger, Harry. The Great Drummers of R&B Funk & Soul. Oxford University Press US. p. 145. 
  6. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians: Biography. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  7. ^ Everett, Walter. The Beatles as Musicians. Oxford University Press US/Google Notes to page 202–212. 
  8. ^ Gottfridsson, Hans Olof, Sheridon, Tony and Beatles. The Beatles from Cavern to Star-Club: The Illustrated Chronicle, Discography & Price Guide 1957–1962. Premium Publishing (1997). pp. 222, 310, 313, 333, 341. 
  9. ^ Ingham, Chris (2009). The Rough Guide to the Beatles. Rough Guides UK. p. 363.  
  10. ^ "James Brown credits". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  11. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud". Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  12. ^ Elias, Jason. "Get On The Good Foot". Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  13. ^ "Bernard "Pretty" Purdie credits". Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  14. ^ "Rock Steady". Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  15. ^ BWW News desk. "Hair Broadway Cast Recording With Never Before Released Tracks Hits Stores". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  16. ^ Jordan, Chris. "Drummer Bernard 'Pretty' Purdie has kept the time to your life", Asbury Park Press, October 4, 2013. Accessed October 5, 2013. "Purdie eventually moved to Jersey — Teaneck and Edison before settling in Springfield."
  17. ^ reviewBrown N ServeAllmusic
  18. ^ Michalkow, Mike (2008). The Total Rock Drummer, p.64. ISBN 0-7390-5268-3.
  19. ^ a b c d Berry and Giani (2003). The Drummer's Bible, p.35. ISBN 1-884365-32-9.
  20. ^ Segal, David (2009-03-30). "A Signature Shuffle Enjoys a New Life". 
  21. ^ Mason, Stuart. "Babylon Sisters". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  22. ^ "Oliver Darley Stirring Souls in U.K." Billboard, at Google Books. Retrieved 11 May 2013.


  • Everett, Walter. The Beatles as musicians: the Quarry Men through Rubber Soul. Oxford University Press US (2001). ISBN 978-0-19-514105-4
  • Gottfridsson, Hans Olof; Sheridan, Tony and Beatles. The Beatles from Cavern to Star-Club: The Illustrated Chronicle, Discography & Price Guide 1957–1962. Premium Publishing (1997). ISBN 978-91-971894-7-7
  • Kernfeld, Barry Dean. The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz second edition. Grove's Dictionaries Inc. (2002). Digitized 21 Dec (2006). ISBN 978-1-56159-284-5
  • Miles, Barry, and Badman, Keith. The Beatles Diary: The Beatles years. Omnibus Press (2001) ISBN 978-0-7119-8308-3
  • Payne, Jim and Weinger, Harry. The Great Drummers of R&B Funk & Soul. Mel Bay Publications (2007). ISBN 978-0-7866-7303-2
  • Rabb, Johnny; Brych, Ray and Lohman, Gregg. Jungle/Drum 'n' Bass for the Acoustic Drum Set: A Guide to Applying Today's Electronic Music to the Drum Set. Alfred Publishing (2001). ISBN 0-7579-9025-8
  • Weinberg, Max. The Big Beat: Conversations with Rock's Greatest Drummers. Hal Leonard Corporation (2004). ISBN 978-0-634-08275-7
  • York, William. Who's Who in Rock Music+. Atomic Press (1978). Digitized 30 Aug 2007.

External links

  • Official website
  • Official Facebook Page
  • Official Twitter Page
  • Bernard Pretty Purdie at the Internet Movie Database
  • Bernard Purdie RBMA lecture
  • An interview with Bernard Purdie by The Drummer’s Journal, 2014
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