Man who developed twin bass drums dies

Brian Cady brianinatlanta2001 at
Mon Feb 16 23:03:30 UTC 2009

Full obit at:

Jazz drummer louie bellson dead at age 84
by Ted Gioia

Louie Bellson, who passed away on Valentine's Day at age 84, made his mark as a leading jazz drummer during a career that spanned eight decades...Duke Ellington lauded him as "the world's greatest drummer” and jazz critic Leonard Feather singled him out as “one of the most phenomenal drummers in history.” In short, Louie Bellson was the quintessential swing percussionist, gifted with a remarkable technique, and a flair for the visceral and dramatic elements of jazz performance. Whether driving a big band, accompanying a singer, or pulling out all the stops with one of his extended drum solos—which might take center stage for up to fifteen minutes—Bellson was a consummate professional, an artist of the drumset, yet also a skilled entertainer who knew how to wow an audience. 
Drummer Louie Bellson was born as Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni on July 6, 1924 in Rock Falls, Illinois. He started playing the drums at the age of three. While he was still in high school, Bellson won the Slingerland National Gene Krupa contest—rising to the top in a competition that drew more than 40,000 drummers. At age 15, he adopted an innovative double bass drum set-up, later emulated by many—from jazz stars such as Ray McKinley and Ed Shaughnessy to rock icons Ginger Baker of Cream and Keith Moon of the Who.

From Wikipedia:
At age 15, he pioneered the double-bass drum set-up. His detailed sketch earned him an 'A' in his high school art class...At the 2004 event celebrating his 80th birthday, Bellson said, appropriately for the inventor and pioneer of double-bass drumming, "I'm not that old; I'm 40 in this leg, and 40 in the other leg."

 -Brian in Atlanta
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