Jerry Wexler recounts: “It was also in Miami that, on a humid night that has stayed with me forever, Aretha set down a ‘Rock Steady’ that will keep rocking as long as electricity wires sound.”
This groove was hard to transcribe. The hands are classic Purdie, but the kick drum was hard to pick out of the mix and didn’t sound like a foot.
As fate would have it, when I was trying to decipher the kick part, my roommate hipped me to an ▶alternate mix of the same take with kick drum louder in the mix.
Mystery solved! The original mix blends Purdie’s kick with a percussionist hitting a second bass drum with a stick.
Dr. John played percussion and Donny Hathaway played keys.1 No wonder Wexler remembered it.