This week I finished reading a recent issue of DRUMHEAD magazine (#61) that featured Bernard “Pretty” Purdie on the cover. I read it in anticipation of Purdie’s appearance on Around the Kit. Respected as one of the best, Purdie is among other things a teacher, author and session player. His resume reads like an all-star line-up card and his smooth style and infectious groove is the envy of all who witness it.
I first became aware of Purdie after seeing a Jeff Pocaro video in which he described the origins of his opening to the Toto song “Rosanna.” The intro was a crossbreed between John Bonhams’s “Fool in the Rain” and the “Purdie Half-Time Shuffle.” After watching that video I spent a great deal of time researching the man who had a shuffle named after him. What I found was an amazing player with an amazing story that put him among the top studio players.
His official website presents a song-list in the hundreds where Purdie claims background appearances for such legends as Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan and Miles Davis. Never forgotten, Rolling Stone voted him #20 out of the Top 100 Drummers of All-Time.
One of my favorite episodes on Drumeo.com features Purdie playing through a series of styles and genres. His level of dynamics, control and execution is remarkable. Purdie is known as a groove drummer with immaculate timing and makes use of precision half-notes and backbeats. His flawless technique is front and center on the video: