Bernard “Pretty” Purdie
The World’s Most Recorded Drummer
Bernard “Pretty” Burdie is known as the world’s most recorded drummer. The 74-year-old drummer has contributed his recognizable drum sound to recordings from artists as diverse as Hall & Oates and Steely Dan to Miles Davis and Herbie Mann. The job of a studio musician is often a thankless profession. Sessions drummers often wallow in obscurity, and their contributions are too often overlooked. While well-known to drum nerds and audiophiles, Purdie’s important career has yet to be fully appreciated by mass audiences.
His trademark “purdie shuffle” is one of music’s most ubiquitous drum patterns. His effortless groove is instantly recognizable and truly sounds like no one else. Purdie’s best drumming, in my opinion, is showcased on Aretha Franklin’s transcendent 1971 album Live at the Fillmore. His drum break on Aretha’s stirring cover of Stephen Stills’ “Love The One Your With” shows off his patented open hi-hat fills and thunderous right foot, while the gospel-influenced cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” demonstrates the subtleties and dexterity that Purdie could provide to Aretha’s ballads. Purdie makes all of it look so effortless, and he often does it all with a big smile.
Purdie doing his “purdie shuffle” drum beat
Written by Vince Meserko. Tune into the Jookhouse every Saturday from 6-8pm on 90.7fm KJHK.