Legendary jazz drummer Louie Bellson unexpectedly passed away on February 14, 2009. In addition to drumming, Bellson (given name Luigi Balassoni) was a composer, educator, and arranger, and is credited with inventing double-bass drumming at 15 years of age. At 17 he beat out more than 40,000 drummers to win the Slingerland National Gene Krupa competition.
Bellson was born in 1924, and by 1942 was drumming with the Benny Goodman band and appeared with Peggy Lee in The Power Girl, his first film appearance. He also played and/or recorded with a who’s who of jazz, including Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and even filled in for Buddy Rich, when which Rich was disabled with a back injury and unable to lead his touring band.
He appeared on more than 200 albums, authored more than a dozen drum books, and composed and arranged hundreds of songs. He was second only to Bob Hope in the number of times he appeared at the White House. He was a 6-time Grammy nominee and received numerous awards throughout his career. He was married to singer Pearl Bailey from 1952 until her death in 1990.