“Pretty” Purdie: King of the Funky Backbeat
Memorial Day signals the launch of summer fun, polishing up those white shoes and dusting off the camp chairs. For Bluely Noted, it’s the official blast off of our Soul Jazz and Bossa Nova playlists (this summer, libations-to-licks ratio will be high). No one gets the party started better than drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, with his unmistakably intoxicating blend of swing, blues and funk. With one sweet swig of the patented “Purdie Shuffle, Half-Time Purdie Shuffle,” toe tapping and booty shaking must ensue.Purdie ‘splains his shuffle recipe here.
Purdie is still active and, according to his own website, is “The World’s Most Recorded Drummer,” having participated on over three thousand recordings by such legends as Aretha, Miles, Louis Armstrong, King Curtis, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Frank Sinatra, and Steely Dan. This week, we’re featuring cuts from Purdie’s lesser known lead sessions from 1968-1974, but if you’re unfamiliar with the drummer’s extensive funky menu, check out James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” (the original funk tune), Aretha’s “Rock Steady,” Herbie Mann’s “Push Push,” and Steely Dan’s “Peg.” Even when he didn’t play with someone, Purdie is apt to tell you he did: in an interview for Bruce Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg’s book, The Big Beat, Purdie claimed to have overdubbed and substituted for Ringo on twenty-one Beatles’ tracks. Until that proof is Everclear, we’ll crank up the outdoor speakers and feel mighty Purdie.
My drummer heavily looks up to him, as he should!