Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Purdie, Bernard "Pretty"

Purdie, Bernard "Pretty", drummer; b. Elkton, MD, 11 June 1939.

One of the most in-demand soul, R&B, funk and pop drummers ever, present on an estimated 3000 albums, he also has jazz credentials. He was the eleventh of 15 children. He started playing percussively at three, got a drumset at 8 and studied with a Mr. Haywood, who let him play with a local big band at 10. He got his first paying gig ($8) 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. Early jazz influences were Cozy Cole, Joe Marshall, Sticks Evans, Panama Francis, Louis Bellson, Gene Krupa, Herbie Lovelle.

He went to N.Y. to do his first recording session work in 1958 (for which he got $80) and 1959 on two versions of "Love Is Strange" with Mickey and Sylvia. In 1960 he decided he wanted to stay in N.Y. with his wife and child 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. But soon he was recording for Motown and Stax 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 '60s and early '70s, and worked with Grover Washington, Jr. and George Benson among several 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 '70s, he recorded with Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and Gato Barbieri along with numerous rock, pop and soul sessions. He recorded with Gene Ammons in 1969, Dizzy Gillespie in 1980 at the Montreux Jazz Festival and toured with him in 1983. Purdie recorded with Hank Crawford during the early '80s, and has continued working steadily into the '90s. He was teaching at the New School in the 1990s.

He has generated controversy by claiming that it was his uncredited overdubbed drumming rather than Ringo Starr's on 21 of the Beatles recordings made during 1963. He also said he played with the Animals and the Monkees. Beatles experts have found that at most he may have overdubbed on Tony Sheridan recordings backed by the Beatles originally made in 1961, when they were rereleased in 1964. It is believed that Purdie overdubbed Pete Best's (not Ringo's) drums on the Atco US Single "Ain't She Sweet", and that he may have performed overdubs on other Tony Sheridan recordings which did not feature the Beatles, and was confusing Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers with Tony Sheridan and another backing band.

Soul Drums (1968); Soul Fingers (1968); Stand By Me (1971); Purdie Good (1971); Soul Is ... Pretty Purdie (1972); Shaft (1974); Delights Of The Garden (1974); Tokyo Jazz Groove Sesssions (1993); Purdie as A Picture (1993); After Hours With The 3B's (1993); Coolin and Groovin (1994); The Hudson River Rats (1994); Kick N Jazz (1996); Soul to Jazz I (1997); In The Pocket (1998);
Soul To Jazz II (1998); Get It While You Can (1999)
As sideperson:
Tim Rose: Tim Rose (1967); Insect Trust: Insect Trust (1968); Aretha Franklin: Young Gifted and Black (1969); Larry Coryell: Coryell (1969); Fat City: Reincarnation (1969);
Gene Ammons: Jungle Strut (1969); Al Kooper: You Never Know Who (1969); Orpheus: Orpheus (1969); Miles Davis: Bitches Brew (1970); Insect Trust: Hoboken Saturday Night (1970);
B.B. King: Completely Well (1970); Aretha Franklin: Live At Fillmore West (1971); King Curtis: Live At Fillmore West (1971); Larry Coryell: Fairyland (1971); Herbie Mann: Push, Push (1971); Jackie Lomax: Three (1972); Hall & Oates: Abandoned Lunchonette (1973); Garland Jeffreys: Garland Jeffreys (1973); Eric Kaz: Cul De Sac (1973); B.B. King: Guess Who (1973);
Danny O'Keefe: Breezy Stories (1973); Cat Stevens: Foreigner (1973); Lou Donaldson: Sweet Lou (1974); Jimmy McGriff: Come Together (1974); Joe Cocker: I Can Stand A Little Rain (1974); Jamaica Say You Will (1975); Michael Bolton: Michael Bolton (1975); Paul Butterfield: Put In Your Ear (1975); Hank Crawford: I Hear A Symphony (1975); Cornell Dupree: Teasin' (1975);
Free Beer: Free Beer (1975); Tim Moore: Tim Moore (1975); Geoff Muldaur: Is Having A Wonderful (1975); Larry Coryell: Basucs (68/69) (1976); Hummingbird: We Can't Go On (1976);
Diamonds In The Night (1977); Pee Wee Ellis: Home In The Country  (1977); Essra Mohawk: Essra (1977); Scarlet Rivera: Scarlet Rivera (1977); Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson:
You Can't Make Love Alone (1977); Joe Cocker: Luxury You Can Afford (1978); Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Pronto Monto (1978); Felix Pappalardi: Don't Worry Ma (1979);
Donny Hathaway: The Best Of Donny Hathaway (1980); Jimmy McGriff: Blue To The Bone (1988);  Jazz Matazz Vol. II 1995); Carrie Smith: Every Now and Then (1994);
Tino Gonzales: Smiles For Miles (1997) 
Bernard "Pretty"  Purdie Vols. 1, 2 & 3

Endress, Gudrun. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie. Jazz Podium 45 [December 1996
"Gig" magazine, 2/78; "Bernard Purdie - the REAL fifth Beatle?"
Max Weinberg: The Big Beat (1984)

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