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Drum legend Louie Bellson dies at 84

Legendary big band drummer Louie Bellson, who performed with such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Oscar Peterson, has died. He was 84.

world Updated: Feb 17, 2009 23:44 IST

Legendary big band drummer Louie Bellson, who performed with such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Oscar Peterson, has died. He was 84.

Bellson died on Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications of Parkinson's disease following a broken hip in November, according to the Los Angeles Times. Bellson's career spanned more than six decades, performing on more than 200 albums with jazz greats including Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Woody Herman, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and his late wife Pearl Bailey. Bellson wrote more than 1,000 compositions and arrangements in several genres, including jazz, swing, orchestral suites, symphonic works and ballets. As an author, he published more than a dozen books on drums and percussion.

Bellson received the prestigious American Jazz Masters Award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994 and was a six-time Grammy nominee.

In 1998, Bellson, along with Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones and Max Roach, was honored as one of four "Living Legends of Music" when he received the American Drummers Achievement Award from the Zildjian Company.

His final recording, "Louie & Clark Expedition 2" with trumpeter Clark Terry was released last year.

Bellson's talent budded at the young age of 15, when he pioneered the double bass drum set-up, and two years later he went on to win the national Slingerland National Gene Krupa drumming contest. There are tentative plans for a Los Angeles-area memorial service, followed by a funeral and burial in his boyhood home of Moline, Illinois, according to his Web site.