Drumming Great Bernard Purdie and his ‘Purdie Shuffle’

Bernard Purdie is the most recorded drummer in the world, having played on over 4,000 albums. In the above video he demonstrates the “Purdie Shuffle”, a pattern he came up with as a youngster and inspired by the pushing/pulling dynamics of a train.

We’ve all heard variations of the Purdie Shuffle, even if we didn’t realize it had a name. Bernard himself played it on Steely Dan’s “Home at Last”, from their Aja album:

Jon Bonham employed a variant on Led Zeppelin’s “Fool in the Rain”, from the final album he recorded with the band prior to his death in 1980, In Through the Out Door.

More recently, Death Cab for Cutie used the beat on the song “Grapevine Fires”. In deference to Purdie, Death Cab drummer Jason McGerr resists calling his work on the song a Purdie Shuffle. As he told the New York Times recently: “It doesn’t matter how much I practice, I will never play that shuffle like Purdie. It’s because he has an attitude that seems to come through every time. He always sounds like he’s completely in charge.”

Sounds like a fair approximation to me, though I’ll admit that’s from a non-drummer’s point of view.

And finally, the late, great Jeff Porcaro created his own variant for Toto’s “Rosanna”. Porcaro’s pattern, said to combine the Purdie Shuffle and the Bo Diddley beat, has itself become known as the “Rosanna Shuffle”.

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