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Louie Bellson
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    (July 6, 1924-February 14, 2009)
    Born in Rock Falls, Illinois
    Birth name was Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni
    Jazz drummer
    Played in the bands of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Harry James, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington
    Married Pearl Bailey (1952-90) and served as her musical director
    Recorded the albums '150 MPH' (1974), 'Explosion' (1975), 'Prime Time' (1977), 'Dynamite' (1979), 'Don't Stop Now' (1984), 'Airmail Special: A Salute to the Big Band Masters' (1990), 'Louie Bellson and His Big Band: Live from New York' (1994) and 'The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson and the Jazz Ballet' (2008)
    His birth name was ludicrously long.
    Although he popularized the double-bass drum, he said a single bass is all a good drummer needs.
    He jumped ship to join Benny Goodman's band without telling his first band's leader, Ted Fio Rito.
    The one Broadway show he wrote, Portofino, closed after three performances (1958).
    Duke Ellington said, 'Not only is Louie Bellson the world's greatest drummer, he's the world's greatest musician.'
    At age 17, he won the Slingerland National Gene Krupa drumming contest, beating out 40,000 competitors.
    He and Bailey adopted two children.
    He received a Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment of the Arts (1994) and a Living Jazz Legends Award from the Kennedy Center (2007).
    He remained active into his 80s, joking about his double-bass drumming, 'I'm not that old. I'm 40 in this leg, and 40 in the other leg.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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