Cultural Percussionist

Bernard Purdie Day

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).

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. 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.

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