Duke Ellington called him "the world's greatest drummer," and Bellson, to this day, lives up to the description. He's a composer, arranger, bandleader, tireless jazz educator, pioneered the use of two bass drums, and in terms of the speed of his hands and feet and the wonderful, percussive "ideas" he conveys on the drums, stands next to only Buddy Rich as the total technician. Referred to by Leonard Feather as "one of the most phenomenal drummers in history," Louie Bellson has expressed himself on the drums since he was three years old.
Referred to by Leonard Feather as "one of the most phenomenal drummers in history," Louie Bellson has expressed himself on the drums since he was three years old. At 15, he pioneered the double-bass-drum set-up. His detailed sketch earned him an 'A' in his high school art class. At 17, he triumphed over 40,000 drummers to win the Slingerland National Gene Krupa contest.
As an internationally-acclaimed artist, he has performed in most of the major capitals around the world. With the exception of Bob Hope, who has made the most White House appearances, Bellson holds, along with his late wife Pearl Bailey, the second highest number of White House appearances.
He has performed and/or recorded scores of albums (approximately 200) as a leader, co-leader or sideman with such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Woody Herman, Norman Granz' J.A.T.P., Benny Carter, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Hank Jones, Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson, Clark Terry, Louie Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Shelly Manne, Billy Cobham, James Brown, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, Pearl Bailey, Mel Torme, Joe Williams and Wayne Newton.