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Drum Legend Louie Bellson Dies at 84

Louie Bellson, the drummer whose career began in the late 1930s and continued until he was hospitalized due to a broken hip received in a fall last November, died at his Los Angeles home Feb. 14. The cause of death was complications from Parkinson’s disease; Bellson had been transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Los Angeles in late January. In addition to his work as a musician, Bellson was also a tireless educator, holding drum clinics at schools and music shops. A vice president of the Remo drum company, Bellson is credited as the creator of the double bass drum setup. He was 84.

The man who Duke Ellington reportedly called “not only the world’s greatest drummer…(but also) the world’s greatest musician,” performed behind dozens of the greatest artists of the 20th century, and also recorded and performed as a leader and co-leader. According to his Web site, Bellson can be heard on recordings by Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Louie Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Bennett, Mel Torme, Joe Williams, Wayne Newton and Bellson’s late wife, Pearl Bailey.

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