bernardpurdieBernard Purdie

Bernard Purdie is known as the "world's most recorded drummer." He has literally played on thousands of songs, for artists such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Steely Dan, Bette Midler and Bob Marley. The Maryland native is also known for inventing "the Purdie Shuffle." His intricate signature groove turns up on a number of artists' tracks -- Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters," for instance. And, yes, that's him behind the drum kit on iconic tracks such as "The Hustle" to "The Theme from Shaft."

"Not too many people have ever asked me that. I can't call it the worst, but I’ll tell you the one I tried to mess up because I was angry. They asked me to play like I was a 14 year old. I was upset. Here I am the number one drummer in New York and around the country, and they want me to sound like a 14 year old. So I tried to mess up the song. That song has haunted me for (45) years: 'Hang On Sloopy.'

"They wanted me to sound like a beginner. They wanted me to sound like a trash band, a garage band. They didn’t use those terms then. ... What made it even worse is that the producer and a couple of the guys in the band had been smokin' and drinkin'. It made me very, very upset. So I tried putting fills in every place but where I was supposed to. Once I've told the story around, then people listen to the song differently and say, 'Oh yeah, you would normally never put a fill here, and not do this here.'

"That's what happened. But I was trying to mess it up. And when we finished, they were like, 'That's it! That's perfect! That's the one!'

"I said to myself then that as long you live, if you don't like something or don't want to do it with somebody, then don't take the job. You cannot go with the wrong attitude to do a job when somebody is paying you. If you don't want to do the job, don't accept the job. So that has been my motto."

— Bernard Purdie


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