sentence with Buddy Rich), Louie Bellson had the rare ability to continually hold one's interest
throughout a 15-minute solo. He became famous in the 1950s for using two bass drums
simultaneously, but Bellson was never a gimmicky or overly bombastic player. In addition to
being able to drive a big band to exciting effect, Bellson could play very quietly with a trio and
sound quite satisfied.
Winner of a Gene Krupa talent contest while a teenager, Bellson was with the big bands of
Benny Goodman (1943 and 1946), Tommy Dorsey (1947-1949), and Harry James (1950-
1951) before replacing Sonny Greer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. A talented writer,
Bellson contributed "Skin Deep" and "The Hawk Talks" to Ellington's permanent repertoire.
Bellson married Pearl Bailey in 1952, and the following year left Ellington to be her musical
Bellson toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic (1954-1955), recorded many dates in the 1950's
for Verve, and was with the Dorsey Brothers (1955-1956), Count Basie (1962), Duke
Ellington (1965-1966), and Harry James (1966). He continued to be active, leading big bands
(different ones on the East and West Coasts), putting together combos for record dates, giving
clinics for younger drummers, and writing new music. Bellson recorded extensively for
Roulette (early '60s), Concord, Pablo, and Music Masters.
Source: Scott Yanow; All Music Guide