ASCAP Jazz Living Legend Award
Louie Bellson universally lauded as one of the greatest of all jazz drummers. Illinois-born Bellson has been playing drums for 80 of his 83 years. He was propelled into the upper reaches of jazz at the age of 17 after winning the Slingerland National Gene Krupa contest in 1941. Within two years, Louie began his career as a top Big Band drummer, playing behind Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James. In the ultimate compliment to Bellson’s talent, he performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Among the scores of other jazz greats who have played with Louie Bellson are Count Basie, Benny Carter, Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Hank Jones and Zoot Sims. Married for many years to the great star Pearl Bailey, Bellson served as her musical director. He has been active as a composer, arranger, recording artist and music educator, writing numerous books on drumming and percussion. Now in his 80s, Louie Bellson continues to perform, record and travel the country, bringing his music to new generations.