Louie Bellson

1924-2009

Musical innovation and excellence came early in the life of drum great Louie Bellson.  Picking up the sticks by the age of three, he had pioneered the use of double bass drums by the time he was fifteen and outperformed over 40,000 competing drummers to win the Gene Krupa drumming contest by age seventeen.

 

He would go on to perform on hundreds of albums with greats such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Wayne Newton and Bellson’s late wife Pearl Bailey.

 

During his storied career he was responsible for more than 1,000 compositions and arrangements, and as an author he published more than a dozen books on drums and percussion. A six-time Grammy nominee and winner of an impressive array of awards and honorary degrees, the significance of Louie Bellson’s impact on music is unmistakable.

 

The legendary Duke Ellington referred to him as "the world's greatest drummer," affirming that he was a member of the "BIG THREE" that included Louie Bellson, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.

 

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