(born Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni on July 6, 1924, Rock Falls, Illinois, USA;
died February 14, 2009, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
February 15, 2009
We regret to announce the unexpected passing of Louie Bellson on Feb 14, 2009.
Tenative plans are for an L.A. area funeral, followed by funeral and burial in Moline, Illinois, his boyhood home. Details forthcoming.
The Guestbook is now closed to new entries. Rather than write there, send your
Condolences and cards to:
Mrs. Louie Bellson
c/o Remo, Inc.
28101 Industry Drive
Valencia, CA 91355
Contributions in memory of Louie Bellson can be made to:
Emmanuel Baptist Church and mailed to Mrs. Bellson at the address above.
Referred to by Duke Ellington as “not only the world’s greatest drummer...(but also) the world’s greatest musician!”, Louie Bellson has expressed himself on drums since age three. At 15, he pioneered the double bass drum set-up. At 17, he triumphed over 40,000 drummers to win the Gene Krupa drumming contest.
He has performed on more than 200 albums with such greats 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.
Composer and author, he has written more than 1,000 compositions and more than a dozen books on drums and percussion. He received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. Also, he is a six-time Grammy nominee.
In 1998, Louie Bellson was hailed (along with Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones and Max Roach) as one of four “Living Legends of Music” when he received the American Drummers Achievement Award from the Zildjian Company.
Bellson holds four honorary doctorates, the latest from DePaul University in 2001. In 2003, a historical land-marker was dedicated at his July 6, 1924 birth house in Rock Falls, Illinois, thus inaugurating their annual 3-day celebration in his honor.
The 2006 CD release of “The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson and the Jazz Ballet” amply showcased his mastery and breadth as both composer and performer. This “magnum opus” is well attested to by the highest accolades of colleagues Tony Bennett, Della Reese, Dave Brubeck, Lalo Schifrin, and others.
In March 2007, Bellson and 35 other jazz greats received the Living Jazz Legends Award from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In June 2007, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers inducted Bellson as a Living Legend in the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame ceremony, Jazz at the Lincoln Center, New York City.
His latest big-band CD with trumpeter Clark Terry, "LOUIE & CLARK EXPEDITION 2" was released in early 2008 and is available through CDBaby.com or Amazon.com