Career In Beats: Bernard Purdie

(Image credit: Al Pereira / Getty)

Picking a handful of tracks to represent the career of the most recorded drummer in history isn't the easiest of tasks. But here we've rounded up a few picks from the catalogue of Bernard Purdie, and there's plenty more for you to discover for yourself.

Purdie Shuffle
Where else could we possibly start? The Purdie shuffle has been praised, imitated and downright ripped off in pretty much equal measure in the decades since Purdie first laid the signature groove to tape. Among the tracks in which you can hear the shuffle (or a variation of it) are Steely Dan's 'Home At Last', Toto classic 'Rosanna' and Led Zeppelin's 'Fool In The Rain.'

King Curtis - 'Memphis Soul Stew'
Pretty Purdie brings the funk in this fantastic live version of King Curtis' classic 'Memphis Soul Stew'. King Curtis suggests that, " …now we need a pound of fat back drums," and boy do we get it.

Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady
We'll let the man himself talk you through this one. Earlier this year he told Musicradar: "The famous drum break was an accident. We were playing, everything was good, and next thing you knew Aretha's music came flying off the piano. Somebody had to come and pick it up, but while this was happening, she's singing: 'Rock… steady… rock… steady." And I did a drum break. It just came to me."

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway - Where is The Love?
"My job was to interpret that dialogue, to accent their words," Purdie told Musicradar. "My other job was to keep them happy, keep them in the proper mood. I played smooth, and I stayed out of the way. But you still felt me - that's the trick. Of course, having Chuck Rainey on the bass made it easy. I'm very restrained on the drums, but I'm full of energy. That's what Chuck Rainey brought to what I do. We were quite a good team."

Bernard Purdie solo
And he's still got it, you know. Check this latter day Purdie solo for the proof.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).