Louie Bellson Day

July 6, 1924 – February 14, 2009

The Hawk Talks

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Drummer, Composer, arranger, bandleader, and educator Louis Bellson was born on July 6, 1924 in Rock Falls, Illinois.

Bellson pioneered the use of the double kick drum set-up after sketching the kit in his high school art class and pitching it to manufacturer Gretsch.

A drummer from a young age, Louie developed a style influenced by the playing of Papa Jo Jones and Big Sid Catlett.

He worked with Benny Goodman in 1943 and went on to perform in the bands of Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and later Duke Ellington.

In 1952 Bellson left the Ellington assembly to become musical director for his wife Pearl Bailey for a time after their marriage.

Louie Bellson appeared in a number of films beginning with “The Gangs All Here” (1943) and “A Song Is Born”(1948).

The drummer toured with Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series in the late ’50s and 1960s.

Also a talented composer Bellson authored a substantial body of work consisting of hundreds of pieces.

Throughout his career he took on the role of teacher sharing his knowledge in drum and band clinics held at high schools and colleges.

Louie Bellson plays his composition, “The Hawk Talks,” in 1951 with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.


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