The Purdie Shuffle Part One

Purdie Shuffle Jyn Yates Tech for Tom Tom MagazineThe famous Purdie Shuffle, a brilliant groove popularized by the world’s most recorded drummer, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.  If you aren’t familiar with his work, then I highly recommend you get familiar because the man is not only a riot, but a brilliant percussionist.   His approach to his craft is gentle and smooth and he is one of the most genius gems we have in the modern day rhythm world.  This dude has style and swagger and so does his grooves.  One of the most famous being the Purdie Shuffle.

The Purdie shuffle is played in half-time which places your main backbeat on count three and can be heard on Steely Dan’s Babylon Sisters.  Not only did the groove work for Purdie, but a handful of other famous drummers later took the shuffle, made it their own and in turn sold millions of records off songs written around it.  The Purdie shuffle holds not only triplets but brilliantly placed ghost notes.  It’s a very tough beat to master but definitely worth the effort in the end.

When I started learning this groove, the first step was to take it super slow, count in eighth note triplets and work on it over and over again until the muscle memory became ingrained.  I suggest that you start with the kick drum and hi-hat patterns as the kick happens always with the right hi-hat hand.  When that is comfortable, bring in the snare accent on count three.  When that flows well, add in all the other snare hits as ghost notes, the hardest being the one right after the accented snare hit. Hint it’s just a rebound. Be sure you play the ghost notes as quiet as possible.   Once you get the main groove down, swing it just a bit and bring the left hat foot in to finish off the hat shoops for a crowd pleasing effect.  Viola! The Purdie Shuffle, play around with it, make sure it feels good and as always, have fun!

Stay tuned… Part II and III will show you the different versions of the Purdie Shuffle that drummer John Bonham and Jeff Picaro later made famous on Fool In the Rain and Roseanna!

Jyn Yates




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