Appearing as a special guest with James Brown this evening is the legendary drummer whose band backed Brown on the 1970 LP Soul on Top.
Referred to by Duke Ellington as "not only the world's greatest drummer...(but also) the world's greatest musician!", LOUIE BELLSON has expressed himself on drums since age three. At 15, he pioneered the double bass drum set-up. At 17, he triumphed over 40,000 drummers to win the Gene Krupa drumming contest.
He has performed on more than 200 albums with such greats as Duke 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 Tormé, Joe Williams, Wayne Newton, and Bellson's late wife Pearl Bailey.
Composer and author, he has written more than 1,000 compositions and more than a dozen books on drums and percussion. He received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. Also, he is a six-time Grammy nominee.
In 1998, Louie Bellson was hailed (along with Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones, and Max Roach) as one of four "Living Legends of Music" when he received the American Drummers Achievement Award from the Zildjian Company.
Bellson holds four honorary doctorates, the most recent from DePaul University in 2001. In 2003, a historical land-marker was dedicated at his July 6, 1924 birth house in Rock Falls, Illinois, inaugurating their annual 4-day celebration in his honor.
The 2006 CD release of "The Sacred Music of Louie Bellson and The Jazz Ballet" amply showcases his mastery and breadth as both composer and performer.