The Purdie Shuffle: Bernard Purdie tells you everything you need to know about playing his most famous groove in one succinct social media post

Bernard Purdie
(Image credit: Al Pereira/Getty Image)

If an image says a thousand words, then Bernard Purdie has just delivered one of the most efficient drum lessons of all time, and it’s all to do with his famous ‘Purdie Shuffle’.

The beat — which Purdie has explained before as an all-encompassing groove comprising quarter-notes, eighth-notes, sixteenth-notes, dotted-eighths and triplets — is a half-time shuffle which became synonymous with Purdie, who most notably played it on Steely Dan’s Home at Last and Babylon Sisters. 

Late session drummer, Jeff Porcaro cited the Purdie Shuffle as a big influence on his halftime shuffle from Toto’s Rosanna, and John Bonham’s playing on Led Zeppelin’s Fool in the Rain also borrows heavily from Purdie’s groove.

But now, Purdie has taken to social media with a picture, telling us everything we need to know to learn what has become a drumming rite of passage. It begins with a photo of the beat’s notation, accompanied by the caption “Don’t worry ’bout those ghost notes, ain’t nothin’ but rebounds, to make it sound, and feel, good.”

Purdie told us in 2019, that the origins of the Purdie Shuffle came from his interpretation of a train, rather than anything kit-related, "The way a locomotive kind of pushes and pulls, that's what I was feeling. I played it for my music teacher, Mr Leonard Haywood, when I was a kid, and he tried to stop me. 'That's not the way to play a shuffle,' he said. 

“But I heard what I heard - whoosh, whoosh, whoosh - so I kept it. Eventually, he said, ‘OK, you work on that. It that could be something…but not today.’ [laughs] That’s all right. I knew I’d get my chance.”


Meanwhile, Purdie also announced A Pretty Purdie Christmas! - a two-night stand at the New Bern Civic Theatre, North Carolina on 15 and 16 December 2023. Promo for the event promises that The Hitmaker will deliver “A Christmas event to New Bern like no other”. You can buy tickets here.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.