By Fred Gretsch, 4th Generation Drum Maker
Louie Bellson’s career was remarkable for many reasons. In musical terms, few, if any drummers, could match his achievements. He began playing with Ted Fio Rito, and he replaced Gene Krupa in Benny Goodman’s band by the time he was seventeen years old. He performed and recorded with such jazz legends as Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, as well as with great vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald, Pearl Bailey, Mel Torme’, Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughan, and Tony Bennett. Louie also led his own successful big bands and small groups for more than forty years.
In addition, Louie established himself as a gifted composer. He wrote and arranged more than a thousand tunes, including the drum-feature classic “Skin Deep,” which he made famous with the Ellington orchestra.
Louie was also a legendary clinician and educator. The eternal student himself, he was always eager to share his knowledge and his skills with young drummers. (more…)