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Bernard Purdie
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20. Bernard Purdie

Even though Bernard "Pretty" Purdie had gone by the nickname "Mississippi Bigfoot," this prolific studio player grew up in Maryland before moving to New York in the early 1960s where he got his start doing sessions with jazz artists like Nina Simone and Gabor Szabo. Known for his intricate hi-hat "ghost notes," Purdue soon became one of the most in-demand drummers in the entire industry, serving as Aretha Franklin's musical director for several years when he wasn't busy recording with everyone from Steely Dan to Mongo Santamaria to Bob Marley. The question isn't who Pretty Purdie played with; it's who he hasn't. “Bernard always some unique stylistic thing that he did that you’d never imagine in advance that nobody else would do,” Steely Dan’s Walter Becker recalled.