Bernard "Pretty" Purdie
born on 11/6/1939 in Elkton, MD, United States
Alias Pretty Purdie
Bernard Lee "Pretty" Purdie (born June 11, 1939) is an American drummer, considered an influential and innovative funk musician. He is known for his precise musical time keeping and his signature use of triplets against a half-time backbeat: the "Purdie Shuffle." He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2013.
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).
Purdie was born on June 11, 1939 in Elkton, Maryland, US, the eleventh of fifteen children. At an early age he 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, as well as Cozy Cole, Sticks Evans, Panama Francis, Louis Bellson, and Herbie Lovelle.
In 1961 he moved from his home town of Elkton, Maryland, to New York City. There he played sessions with Mickey and Sylvia and regularly visited the Turf Club on 50th and Broadway, where musicians, agents, and promoters met and touted for business. It was during this period that he played for the saxophonist Buddy Lucas, who nicknamed him 'Mississippi Bigfoot'. Eventually Barney Richmond contracted him to play session work. In a 1978 interview, Purdie claimed to have added drum overdubs to "several [tracks] of the Beatles' Hamburg recording" with Tony Sheridan, including "Ain't She Sweet", "Take Out Some Insurance On Me Baby" and "Sweet Georgia Brown", to give them a punchier sound for the US market.
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" at the same session. 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) and Get on the Good Foot (1972).
Purdie started working with Aretha Franklin as musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years, as well as drumming for Franklin's opening act, King Curtis and The King Pins. 5-7 March 1971 he performed with both bands at the Fillmore West; the resulting live recordings were released as Aretha Live At The Fillmore West (19 May 1971) and King Curtis's Live At Fillmore West (1971). His best known track with Franklin was "Rock Steady", 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".
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.
Purdie has been a resident of New Jersey, living in Edison, Teaneck and Springfield Township.
In 1973 Purdie founded Encounter Records and released five albums
- EN 3000: Seldon Powell - Messin' With
- EN 3001: Sands of Time - Profile (with Jimmy Owens, Garnett Brown)
- EN 3002: East Coast - East Coast (with Larry Blackmon, Gwen Guthrie, Haras Fyre)
- EN 3003: Frank Owens - Brown N Serve (with Hugh McCracken) 
- EN 3004: Harold Vick as "Sir Edward" - The Power of Feeling
Purdie is known as a groove drummer with immaculate timing and makes use of precision half note, backbeats, and grooves. Purdie's signature sixteenth note hi-hat lick pish-ship, pish-ship, pish-ship is distinct. 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. Variations on this shuffle can be heard on songs such as Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain", The Police's "Walking on the Moon", Death Cab For Cutie's "Grapevine Fires", and Toto's "Rosanna" (Rosanna shuffle). Purdie's shuffle can be heard on Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters" and "Home At Last".
- Soul Drums (Date, 1968)
- Purdie Good! (Prestige, 1971) [note: reissued as Legends of Acid Jazz: Bernard Purdie in 1996]
- Stand by Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get) (Mega [Flying Dutchman Series], 1972) with The Playboys
- Soul Is... Pretty Purdie (Flying Dutchman, 1972; reissued on BGP/Ace in 2014)
- Shaft (Prestige, 1973) recorded 1971 [note: reissued as Legends of Acid Jazz: Bernard Purdie in 1996]
- Lialeh (Original Movie Soundtrack) (Bryan, 1974)
- Delights of the Garden (Douglas/Celluloid, 1975) with The Last Poets
- Purdie as a Picture (Kilmarnock, 1993) with Galt MacDermot's New Pulse Jazz Band
- Coolin' 'N Groovin' (A Night at "On-Air") (Lexington/West 47th, 1993)
- Bernard Purdie's Jazz Groove Sessions in Tokyo (Lexington/West 47th, 1993)
- After Hours with The 3B's (3B's Music, 1993)
- Soothin' 'N Groovin' With The 3B's (3B's Music, 1994) with Houston Person
- The Hudson River Rats (3B's Music, 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) with The WDR Big Band
- Soul to Jazz II (Act, 1997) with The WDR Big Band
- In the Pocket (P-Vine, 1997)
- Get It While You Can (3B's Music, 1999) with The Hudson River Rats
- Masters of Groove Meet Dr. No (Jazzateria, 2000) with Reuben Wilson, Grant Green Jr., Tarus Mateen
- King Of The Beat (3B's Music, 2001)
- Purdie Good Cookin' (3B's Music, 2003) with Purdie's Powerhouse
- Godfathers of Groove (18th & Vine, 2005) with Reuben Wilson, Grant Green Jr., Jerry Jemmott [note: originally released as Masters of Groove]
- Godfathers of Groove 3 (18th & Vine, 2008) with Reuben Wilson, Grant Green Jr., Bill Easley
- Jersey Blue (Running Rogue, 2009) with Gene McCormick, Jack Hoban
- Selling It Like It Is (Cadence Jazz, 2013) with David Haney; recorded 2009
- Cool Down (Sugar Road, 2018)
- Herbie Mann - Our Mann Flute (Atlantic, 1966)
- Jack McDuff - A Change Is Gonna Come (Atlantic, 1966)
- Freddie McCoy - Funk Drops (Prestige, 1966)
- Gábor Szabó - Jazz Raga (Impulse!, 1966)
- Benny Golson - Tune In, Turn On (Verve, 1967)
- James Brown - Cold Sweat (King, 1967)
- King Curtis & His Kingpins - Instant Groove (Atco, 1967)
- Tim Rose - Tim Rose (Columbia, 1967)
- Nina Simone - Nina Simone Sings the Blues (RCA, 1967)
- Phil Upchurch - Feeling Blue (Milestone, 1967)
- Tom Rush - The Circle Game (Elektra, 1968)
- The Soul Finders - Sweet Soul Music (RCA Camden CAS-2170, 1968)
- David "Fathead" Newman - Bigger & Better (Atlantic, 1968),
- David "Fathead" Newman - The Many Facets of David Newman (Atlantic, 1969)
- Freddie McCoy - Listen Here (Prestige, 1968)
- Albert Ayler - New Grass (Impulse!, 1968)
- Shirley Scott - Soul Song (Atlantic, 1968)
- Jimmy McGriff - Electric Funk (Blue Note, 1969)
- James Brown - Say It Loud...I'm Black And I'm Proud (King, 1969)
- Sonny Phillips - Sure 'Nuff (Prestige, 1969)
- Al Kooper - You Never Know Who Your Friends Are (Columbia, 1969)
- Hank Crawford - Mr. Blues Plays Lady Soul (Atlantic, 1969)
- Gary Burton - Good Vibes (Atlantic, 1969)
- Shirley Scott - Shirley Scott & the Soul Saxes (Atlantic, 1969)
- Yusef Lateef - Yusef Lateef's Detroit (Atlantic, 1969)
- Boogaloo Joe Jones - Boogaloo Joe (Prestige, 1969)
- Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Soul Talk (Prestige, 1969)
- Gene Ammons - The Boss Is Back! (Prestige, 1969)
- Gene Ammons - Brother Jug! (Prestige, 1969)
- Rusty Bryant - Night Train Now! (Prestige, 1969)
- Herbie Hancock - Fat Albert Rotunda (Warner Bros., 1969)
- Dizzy Gillespie - Cornucopia (Solid State, 1969)
- Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Black Feeling! (Prestige, 1969)
- Larry Coryell - Coryell (Vanguard, 1969)
- Sonny Phillips - Black on Black! (Prestige, 1970)
- Jimmy McGriff and Junior Parker - The Dudes Doin' Business (Capitol, 1970)
- Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Here It 'Tis (Prestige, 1970)
- Boogaloo Joe Jones - Right On Brother (Prestige, 1970)
- Boogaloo Joe Jones - No Way! (Prestige, 1970)
- B.B. King - Completely Well (ABC, 1970)
- Robert Palmer's Insect Trust - Hoboken Saturday Night (Atco, 1970)
- Charles Kynard - Afro-Disiac (Prestige, 1970)
- Eddie Palmieri - Harlem River Drive (Roulette, 1970)
- Five Stairsteps - O-o-h Child (Buddah, 1970)
- Charles Kynard - Wa-Tu-Wa-Zui (Beautiful People) (Prestige, 1970)
- Houston Person - Houston Express (Prestige, 1970)
- Hank Crawford - It's a Funky Thing to Do (Cotillion, 1971)
- Boogaloo Joe Jones - What It Is (Prestige, 1971)
- Eddie Harris and Les McCann - Second Movement (Atlantic, 1971)
- David "Fathead" Newman - Captain Buckles (Cotillion, 1971)
- Aretha Franklin - Aretha Live at Fillmore West (Atlantic, 1971)
- Oliver Nelson - Swiss Suite (Flying Dutchman, 1971)
- King Curtis - Live at Fillmore West (Atlantic, 1971)
- Johnny "Hammond" Smith - Wild Horses Rock Steady (Kudu/CTI, 1971)
- Larry Coryell - Fairyland (Mega, 1971)
- Herbie Mann - Push Push (Embryo/Atlantic, 1971)
- Dizzy Gillespie - The Real Thing (Perception, 1971)
- Gato Barbieri - El Pampero (Flying Dutchman, 1971)
- Gil Scott-Heron - Pieces of a Man (Flying Dutchman, 1971)
- Les McCann - Invitation to Openness (Atlantic, 1972)
- Hank Crawford - Help Me Make It Through the Night (Kudu/CTI, 1972)
- Aretha Franklin - Young, Gifted and Black (Atlantic, 1972)
- James Brown - Get On The Good Foot (Polydor, 1972)
- Hubert Laws - Wild Flower (Atlantic, 1972)
- Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace (Atlantic, 1972)
- Esther Phillips - Alone Again Naturally (Kudu/CTI, 1972)
- Miles Davis - Get Up with It (Columbia, 1972)
- Dakota Staton - Madame Foo-Foo (Groove Merchant, 1972)
- Ronnie Foster - Sweet Revival (Blue Note, 1972)
- Hank Crawford - We Got a Good Thing Going (Kudu/CTI, 1972)
- Buddy Terry - Lean on Him (Mainstream, 1973)
- David "Fathead" Newman - The Weapon (Atlantic, 1973)
- Gato Barbieri - Bolivia (Flying Dutchman, 1973)
- Groove Holmes - Night Glider (Groove Merchant, 1973)
- B.B. King - Guess Who (ABC, 1973)
- Cat Stevens - Foreigner (A&M, 1973)
- Hall & Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette (Atlantic, 1973)
- Bette Midler - Bette Midler (Atlantic, 1973)
- Jimmy McGriff and Groove Holmes - Giants of the Organ Come Together (Groove Merchant, 1973)
- Groove Holmes − New Groove (Groove Merchant, 1974)
- Robert Palmer - Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley (Island, 1974)
- Gato Barbieri - Yesterdays (Flying Dutchman, 1974)
- Joe Cocker - I Can Stand A Little Rain (A&M, 1974)
- Rusty Bryant - Until It's Time for You to Go (Prestige, 1974)
- Bama The Village Poet - Ghettos Of The Mind (Chess, 1974)
- Arif Mardin - Journey (Atlantic, 1974)
- Cornell Dupree - Teasin' (Atlantic, 1975)
- Todd Rundgren - Initiation (Bearsville, 1975)
- Jorge Dalto - Chevere (United Artists, 1976)
- Hummingbird - We Can't Go On Meeting Like This (A&M, 1976)
- Steely Dan - The Royal Scam (ABC, 1976)
- Steely Dan - Aja (ABC, 1977)
- Hummingbird - Diamond Nights (A&M, 1977)
- Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis - Home In The Country (Savoy, 1977)
- Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson - You Can't Make Love Alone (Flying Dutchman, 1977)
- Joe Cocker - Luxury You Can Afford (Elektra, 1978)
- Felix Pappalardi - Don't Worry, Ma (A&M, 1979)
- Dizzy Gillespie - Digital at Montreux, 1980 (Pablo, 1980)
- Steely Dan - Gaucho (MCA, 1980)
- B.B. King - There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (MCA, 1981)
- Houston Person - Heavy Juice (Muse, 1982)
- Houston Person - Always on My Mind (Muse, 1985)
- Hank Crawford - Mr. Chips (Milestone, 1986)
- Flip Phillips and Scott Hamilton - A Sound Investment (Concord, 1987)
- Jimmy McGriff - Blue to the 'Bone (Milestone, 1988)
- Jimmy Smith - Damn! (Verve, 1995)
- Houston Person - The Opening Round (Savant, 1997)
- Reuben Wilson - Organ Blues (Jazzateria, 2001)
- Oliver Darley - Introducing Oliver Darley (East West, 2001)
- Elliott Randall - Still Reelin' [EP] (Private Collection Records, 2007)
- Larry Coryell - Earthquake at the Avalon, (inakustik, 2009)
- Hair - Broadway Cast Recording (Ghostlight/Razor & Tie, 2009)
- Chihiro Yamanaka - Reminiscence (Verve, 2011)
- Mick Taylor - East Coast Tour Appearances (2012)
- Vulfpeck - Various Tour Appearances (2016)
- Eddie Palmieri- Wisdom/Sabiduria (2017)
- Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press US. p. 541.
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- Hyatt, Greg & Mitchell, Stan. Get Locked. Alfred Publishing. p. 95.
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- 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."
- Allmusic Brown N Serve review
- Michalkow, Mike (2008). The Total Rock Drummer, p.64. ISBN 0-7390-5268-3.
- Berry and Giani (2003). The Drummer's Bible, p.35. ISBN 1-884365-32-9.
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- "Earthquake at the Avalon - Larry Coryell - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". Retrieved 1 April 2017.
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- Miles, Barry, and Badman, Keith. The Beatles Diary: The Beatles years. Omnibus Press (2001) ISBN 978-0-7119-8308-3
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- Official website
- Official Facebook Page
- Official Twitter Page
- Bernard Pretty Purdie on IMDb
- Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on Drummerworld
- Bernard Purdie RBMA lecture
- An interview with Bernard Purdie by The Drummer’s Journal, 2014
- An interview with Bernard Purdie for the NAMM Oral History Program, 2004