Bernard Lee "Pretty" Purdie (born June 11, 1939) is an American sessiondrummer, and is considered an influential and innovative exponent of funk. He is known for his strict musical time keeping and "The Purdie Shuffle".
Purdie recorded Soul Drums (1968) as a band leader and although he went on to record Alexander's Ragtime Band, the album remained unreleased until Soul Drums was reissued on CD in 2009 with the Alexander's Ragtime Band sessions. Other solo albums include Purdie Good (1971), Soul Is...Pretty Purdie (1972) and the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Lialeh (1973).
In 1961 he moved from his home town of Elkton, Maryland, to New York. In order to be able to obtain a licence to perform in public (minimum age 21), Purdie claimed he was born in 1939, while in fact he was born in 1941. There he played sessions with Mickey and Sylvia and regularly visited the Turf Club on 50th and Broadway, where musicians, agents, and promoters met and touted for business. It was during this period that he played for the saxophonist Buddy Lucas, who nicknamed him 'Mississippi Bigfoot'. Eventually Barney Richmond contracted him to play session work. In a 1978 interview, Purdie claimed to have added drum overdubs to "several [tracks] of the Beatles' Hamburg recording" with Tony Sheridan, including "Ain't She Sweet", "Take Out Some Insurance on Me Baby" and "Sweet Georgia Brown", to give them a punchier sound for the US market.
Purdie was contracted by arranger Sammy Lowe to play a session with James Brown in 1965 and recording session records also show that Purdie played on "Ain't That A Groove" at the same session. This was one of several sessions he played with Brown and the track "Kansas City" from Brown's album Cold Sweat (1967), displays one of the most sophisticated and driving shuffles recorded for Brown's catalogue. Purdie is also credited on the albums Say It Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud (1969) and Get on the Good Foot (1972) on which "Ain't That A Groove" appeared.
Purdie started working with Aretha Franklin as musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years, as well as drumming for Franklin's opening act, King Curtis and The King Pins. In 1970 he performed with both bands at the Fillmore West; the resulting live recordings were released as Aretha Live at the Fillmore West (1971) and King Curtis's Live at Fillmore West (1971). His best known track with Franklin was "Rock Steady", on which he played what he described as "a funky and low down beat". Of his time with Franklin he once commented that "backing her was like floating in seventh heaven".
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