Bernard Purdie was born June 11, 1942 in Elkton, Maryland as the eleventh of fifteen children. At just 6 years of age, Purdie began to bang out rhythms on improvised equipment. At 14 he purchased his first real drum set and became the most important provider for the family – earning his pay with country and carnival bands. This “schooling” enabled Purdie to “feel my way into nearly every kind of music, ’cause I had to know all styles and was never afraid to try something new.”
Purdie moved to New York in 1960 after finishing high school and played with (among others), Lonnie Youngblood before landing his first hit with King Curtis. Purdie attended college at Morgan State in Baltimore, MD and eventually connected with Aretha Franklin in 1970 – the beginning of an unparalleled career. Since then, Purdie has been a regular guest in the studios of the stars of Jazz, Soul, and Rock, working together with Paul Butterfield as well as Larry Coryell, Miles Davis, Hall & Oates, Al Kooper, Herbie Mann, Todd Rundgren and Cat Stevens, as well as regularly producing his own solo albums under his own name.
Which musician did Aretha Franklin definitely NOT want missing from the line-up when she recorded her most inspired albums at the beginning of the seventies? Who provided the back-beat for Steely Dan’s “Aja”, and for whom have Isaac Hayes, Donny Hathaway, B.B. King, “Sweet” Lou Donaldson, Joe Cocker and Hank Crawford reserved that stool behind the drum kit? The list is incomplete, it must be, because no other drummer in the last three decades has seen the interior of a recording studio as often as Bernard “Pretty” Purdie! The 74 year-old native of Elkton, Maryland has laid down the beat on over 3000 albums to date.
Having the endorsement of this short list of award winning artists demonstrates the unique qualities this man possesses. Colleagues describe the drummer’s style as the “funkiest soul beat” in the business, and Purdie has decidedly never limited his talents to the realm of jazz but rather has consistently sought out new musical experiences beyond its borders. He has anchored sessions with the Rolling Stones, James Brown and Tom Jones with equal ease and proven that – with all his attention to precision playing – terms such as “drive” and “groove” are definitely not missing from his vocabulary. This is certainly why his rhythms have appeared as samples on nearly every “Acid Jazz” record released in the past few years – the genre that has so successfully hosted the renaissance of Soul Jazz.
On September 30, 2016 Bernard Purdie & Friends made their debut at the inaugural Bear Creek Bayou Music Festival at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans. But wait, there’s more…“Pretty” Purdie & Co. have recorded a full album of original material at Brooklyn’s Vibromonk Studio over the summer.
The group plans to release the self-titled record “Bernard Purdie and Friends”, which was co-produced by Brian J and Pete Shand, in the spring of 2017.
Bernard’s signature sticks are available directly from his website http://bernardpurdie.com/store/index.htm