Purdie, Bernard (Pretty)

views updated

Purdie, Bernard (Pretty)

Purdie, Bernard (Pretty) , pop-jazz drummer; b. Elkton, Md., June 11, 1939. One of the most in-demand soul, R&B, funk and pop drummers, Purdie also has jazz credentials. He started playing percussively at three, got a drum set at eight, and began playing with a local big band at 10. He got his first paying gig at 11 or 12. In school, his teachers had him play trumpet, then flute in order to learn reading. He ran a country music trio, Jackie Lee and the Angels, with Lee, a white guitarist, and a Hawaiian bassist, where he drummed, danced and sang. His early jazz influences were Cozy Cole, Joe Marshall, Sticks Evans, Panama Francis, Louis Bellson, Gene Krupa, and Herbie Lovelle. He went to N.Y. to do his first session work in 1958 and 1959 on two versions of “Love Is Strange” with Mickey and Sylvia. In 1960, he decided to stay in N.Y. with his wife and for six months supported himself with a job at Globe Laundry on 49th St. while he was paid to play on demos for Les Cooper, Doris Troy, and others. Soon he was busily recording for Motown and Stax, playing with James Brown, King Curtis, and many others; through Curtis he was very active at Atlantic. He was CTI’s house drummer in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and worked with Grover Washington Jr. and George Benson, among others. He toured with Curtis and Aretha Franklin in 1970, and was Franklin’s music director until 1975. During his studio days in the early 1970s, he recorded with Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and Gato Barbieri, along with numerous rock, pop, and soul sessions. He recorded with Gene Artimons in 1969 and Dizzy Gillespie in 1980 at the Montreux Jazz Festival; he toured with Gillespie in 1983. Purdie recorded with Hank Crawford during the early 1980s, and has continued working steadily into the 1990s. He generated a firestorm of reaction in 1993 when he charged it was his uncredited drumming rather than Ringo Starr’s on some Beatles tracks. Purdie claimed proof was forthcoming, but none has been presented. He also said he played with The Animals and The Monkees. He taught at the New School in the 1990s.


Purdie Good (1971); Soul is…Pretty Purdie (1972); Delights of the Gardens (1977).

—Lewis Porter

About this article

Purdie, Bernard (Pretty)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article