I spend most of my waking hours (typically 2-6 p.m. – I’m very sloth-like) listening to music. And on those rare occasions when I’m not listening to music, I’m listening to podcasts about music. (60 Songs that Explain the 90s is hilarious!) One of the shows in the regular rotation is Sound Opinions, co-hosted by longtime Chicago music critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis.

Their most recent episode is “Give the Drummer Some” – here’s the synopsis:

I enjoyed the entire episode (although I vehemently disagree with fellow-Jersey-City-born Jim DeRogatis’ opinions about The Who). But it was the final segment, an interview with influential R&B, soul and funk drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, that really caught my ear. Because it wasn’t just about music, it was about life.

Bernard Purdie has a signature drum sound: “The Purdie Shuffle.”

His session work can be heard on thousands of songs, especially ones from the mid-60’s through the early 80’s. Aretha Franklin. Steely Dan. Hall & Oates. Nina Simone. Miles Davis. The list goes on… and on. Here’s one legendary example:

Purdie’s handiwork (and footwork too – drummers put their body and soul into it!) has been sampled by plenty of hip-hop artists in the ensuing years. And here’s the thing: If you’re not the recording artist or the songwriter, you probably don’t get a nickel in royalties. If someone wanted to sample the “Rock Steady” drums, they’d have to cut a check to Aretha, not Bernard.

It would be easy for him to be “Bitter Bernard” instead of “Pretty” Purdie. But he’s not. Check out this two-minute clip from the interview on Sound Opinions where he talks about his approach to getting the short end of the drumstick:

Yes, I was bitter for a while. No more. I stopped being bitter because bitter means that you don’t live long… I just want to have fun. I want to enjoy myself and have a ball!

Bernard Purdie

That’s just beautiful!

I tuned in for some music, and got a life lesson in the bargain. Keep rockin’ steady, “Pretty” Purdie!