Louis Bellson was the stage name for Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Ballassoni. He was born in Rock Falls, Illinois on July 6, 1924 and he died February 14, 2009. He was a jazz educator, bandleader, arranger and composer. He was also a pioneer in using two bass drums which was not done before his time.
Bellson was influenced by Jo Jones, Sid Catletti, and Chick Webb.
After he graduated high school in 1942, he worked with big bands alongside such greats as Benny Goodman, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and Duke Ellington.
Louie Bellson was known internationally. He performed in many major capitals around the world. He married singer Pearl Bailey. They were married from 1952 until her death in 1990. Bellson is known to have appeared at the White House more than any other performer except Bob Hope.
Bellson’s compositions and arrangements were both written and improvised. They consisted of many types of music, such as; ballet, symphonic works, romantic orchestral suites, and jazz. He was also a lyricist. There were times that he was not so successful, particularly noted; In 1958, he ventured into Broadway with a flop called “Portofino,” which closed sadly after only three performances. As an author, Bellson, published many books on drums and percussion. Which is listed down below.
Bellson conducted drum clinics in high schools, colleges and music stores. In between his tight schedule he recorded and composed more than 100 albums and 300 compositions.
Among Bellson’s awards, Yale named him a Duke Ellington Fellow in 1977. He was voted into the Percussion Arts Society, in 1978. He entered the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 1985. He received Doctor of Humane Letters from Northern Illinois University in 1985. From the National Endowment of the Arts, in 1994, he received the NEA Jazz Masters Award.
In his personal life Bellson adopted a son, named Tony, in the mid-1950’s. On April 20, 1960 a daughter was born named Dee-Dee J. Bellson. In 2004, Tony died followed by Dee-Dee on July 4, 2009, she was 49 years old. She died 5 months after Louie Bellson died. He died at the age of 84 from complications of a broken hip, which occurred in December 2008. He also had Parkinson ’s disease. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Moline, Illinois, next to his father.
Here is a list of great books written by Louie Bellson
List of Books written by Louie Bellson
- Solos & Duets for Snare Drum by Louie Bellson
- Contemporary Brush Techniques by Louie Bellson
- Odd Time Reading Text by Louie Bellson
- Their Time was the Greatest by Louie Bellson
- Kingdom of Rhythm by Louie Bellson
- The Musical Drummer by Louie Bellson
- Modern Reading Text in 4/4 by Louie Bellson