The next time you’re hanging out listening to great music from your favorite artist or group, there’s a good chance that Bernard Purdie is playing the drums on that album.

He has played on over 3,000 albums. Yes I said 3,000 albums. His partial list include The Stones, Hall and Oates, Steely Dan, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin, BB King, Cat Stevens, Bette Midler, Robert Palmer, Richie Havens, Herbie Hancock and about 2800 more artists, bands and soundtracks.

I met Bernard about 20 years ago on a New Years Eve where he was playing at a restaurant in the West End section of Long Branch. I was with about 10 or 12 people at the table, several of them musicians and we started up a conversation with Bernard before he took the stage.

His easy going, welcoming personality made us all feel that we had known him for years. I felt like I was in my kitchen as his stories flowed with great interest and music history, peppered by laughter.

Well we had kept Bernard at our table for close to an hour and he was a half an hour late thanks to us in starting his gig. The owner of the restaurant while considerate of the monopoly we had with Bernard’s time, still had a restaurant full of customers waiting to hear him play.

I introduced him that night to the awaiting crowd and was mesmerized by the ease and music of his talent. A few years later thanks to my musical director Pat Guadagno, we booked him on my TV show The Big Joe Henry Variety Show.

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did talking with him. Bernard celebrated his 81st birthday last week. Time and age has been very kind to Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and we are very grateful.

This Week in Music History

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