Bernard Lee "Pretty" Purdie (born June 11, 1939) is an American drummer, and an influential R&B, soul and funk musician.[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]

Bernard Purdie
Purdie in 2020
Purdie in 2020
Background information
Birth nameBernard Lee Purdie
Also known as
  • Bernard "Pretty" Purdie
  • Pretty Purdie
  • Mississippi Bigfoot
Born (1939-06-11) June 11, 1939 (age 85)
Elkton, Maryland, U.S.
Years active1958–present

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.



Purdie was born on June 11, 1939, in Elkton, Maryland, US, the eleventh of fifteen children.[5] 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,[6] as well as Cozy Cole, Sticks Evans, Panama Francis, Louis Bellson, and Herbie Lovelle.[7]

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.[6]

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"[8] at the same session.[6] Purdie is credited on James Brown's albums Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud (1969)[9] and Get on the Good Foot (1972).[10]

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, saxophonist King Curtis and the King Pins.[11] From March 5 to March 7, 1971, he performed with both bands at the Fillmore West; the resulting live recordings were released as Aretha Live at Fillmore West (1971) and King Curtis's Live at Fillmore West (1971).[12] His best known track with Franklin was "Rock Steady",[13] 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".[6]

Purdie was credited on the soundtrack album for the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978) and later he was the drummer for the 2009 Broadway revival of Hair and appeared on the associated Broadway cast recording.[14] In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in music by Five Towns College.[15]

Purdie has been a resident of New Jersey, living in Edison, Teaneck and Springfield Township.[16] In 2023, he moved to New Bern, North Carolina.

Encounter Records


Purdie founded Encounter Records in 1973 and released five albums:

Drumming style

Purdie shuffle variants[18] Play.
Purdie shuffle variant[19] Play.

Purdie is known as a groove drummer with immaculate timing who 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.[6] 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", the Police's "Walking on the Moon", and Toto's "Rosanna" (Rosanna shuffle).[19][20] Purdie plays the shuffle on Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters"[21] and "Home At Last".[19]



As leader/co-leader

  • Soul Drums (Columbia, 1967)
  • Purdie Good! (Prestige, 1971) [note: reissued as Legends of Acid Jazz: Bernard Purdie in 1996]
  • Stand by Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get) (Mega Records [in the '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 (Celluloid, 1975) with the Last Poets
  • Purdie as a Picture (Kilmarnock, 1993) with Galt MacDermot's New Pulse Jazz Band
  • Bernard Purdie's Jazz Groove Sessions in Tokyo (Lexington/West 47th, 1993)
  • Coolin' 'N Groovin' (A Night At 'On-Air') (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
  • The Masters of Groove Meet Dr. No (Jazzateria, 2001) 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
  • The Godfathers of Groove (18th & Vine, 2007) with Reuben Wilson, Grant Green Jr., Jerry Jemmott [note: originally released as The Masters of Groove]
  • The Godfathers of Groove 3 (18th & Vine, 2009) 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, 2009 [rel. 2013]) with David Haney
  • Cool Down (Sugar Road, 2018)

As sideman



  1. ^ a b Feather, Leonard & Gitler, Ira (1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford University Press US. p. 541. ISBN 978-0-19-507418-5.
  2. ^ a b Wynn, Ron. "Bernard Purdie". Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  3. ^ Hyatt, Greg & Mitchell, Stan. Get Locked. Alfred Publishing. p. 95.
  4. ^ "Modern Drummer's Readers Poll Archive, 1979–2014". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Artist Profile". Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  6. ^ a b c d e Payne, Jim & Weinger, Harry. The Great Drummers of R&B Funk & Soul. Oxford University Press US. pp. 143–145.
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians: Biography. Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  8. ^ "James Brown credits". Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  9. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  10. ^ Elias, Jason. "Get On The Good Foot". Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  11. ^ "Bernard "Pretty" Purdie - Artist Profile". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  12. ^ "Bernard "Pretty" Purdie credits". Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  13. ^ "Rock Steady". Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  14. ^ BWW News desk. "Hair Broadway Cast Recording With Never Before Released Tracks Hits Stores". Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  15. ^ "Five Towns College 42nd Commencement Exercises May 21, 2016". 23 May 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  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. ^ Allmusic Brown N Serve review
  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". The New York Times.
  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.
  23. ^ "Earthquake at the Avalon – Larry Coryell – Songs, Reviews, Credits – AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 April 2017.


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