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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

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  • Herbert W. Stark wrote on February 24, 2009 report

    I was absolutely stunned and saddened reading about the recent passing of Louie Bellson (February 14, 2009), one of the world renown premier drummers of all time. My fondest recollection of Louie (born in Rock Falls, IL in 1924) as a member of the great Duke Ellington orchestra was his showcase number, 'Skin Deep' (an electrifying drum solo featuring the simultaneous use of two bass drums) when I went to the see the stage show at either the NY Paramount or the Strand or Capitol theaters. Those were the days (in the 1940s and early 1950s) when big bands thrived. At the end of the show as the stage lowered into the pit. we'd rush to say hello to Duke, Louie, Cat Anderson and other members of the Ellington orchestra and Louie would hand out 'Louie Bellson Drumsticks' as a souvenir (I've got mine). I remember vocalist Peggy King who sang with the likes of the Charlie Spivack, Ray Anthony and Ralph Flanagan orchestras getting together with a quartet of big band/jazz musicians Eddie Samuels, Buddy Clark Al Viola and of course Bellson to record an album of classic standards 'My Funny Valentine,' They Didn't Believe Me,' and 'Let's Fall in Love' to name a few of this ten tune CD. Louie Bellson ranks with the best of them including Krupa, Rich, Max Roach, Cozy Cole, Shadow Wilson, Shelly Manne, Sid Bulkin, Irv Cotler and Sonny Igoe. In the realm of Big Band music, Louie Bellson will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

    Herb Stark, Massapequa, NY