Neil Peart on Louie Bellson’s ‘Skin Deep’


Chip Stern

SKF NOTE: My friend and music writer par excellence, Chip Stern, had a very good, albeit short-lived, idea for a drummer’s magazine. I did some writing for Chip’s magazine, but I don’t know that any of my writing was published. I’ll have to talk soon with Chip. He can refresh my memory.

Leonard Feather had an ages long Down Beat magazine feature called Blindfold Test. The concept was: play a handful of unannounced tunes for a musician and get their objective reaction.


Neil Peart circa 1991

Chip took that idea and used it for a part of his drummer magazine he called Trading Fours.

This week I found a manuscript of a Trading Fours I did with Neil Peart in August 1989. Again, as dim-witted as it may sound, I don’t remember where this exchange took place. It could have been a weekend I spent at Neil’s home.

Anyway, here’s a look back 26-years at Neil’s reaction to Louie Bellson’s Skin Deep. I’ll post the other Trading Four exchanges with Neil Peart up the road.

Neil Peart
August 21, 1989
“Trading Fours”


Louie Bellson

Song Title: “Skin Deep.” Drummer: Louie Bellson. Album Name: “Hi-Fi Ellington Uptown. Duke Ellinton and his Orchestra. Columbia CL-830. Released: 1953

Neil Peart: Well, my first response: Great to listen to. Really exciting. Dynamic. Some of the same daring and rhythmic abandon as Gene Krupa’s drumming, although I’m pretty sure it’s not him. Smokin’! That’s my overall analysis. Is it Louie?

Scott K Fish: Yeah. What tipped you off?

NP: Oh, the bass drums.

SKF: The double bass drums.

NP: Yeah.

SKF: That was Skin Deep with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra. A song that really put Louie on the map.

NP: Great title for a drum solo.

SKF: What did you think of his drum sound?

NP: Ah! The classic tonality of the period, I guess. That classic sound of big band drums. Very nice. The solo was obviously built with a format and story construction. The fills in the early part of the song put me most in mind of Gene because they’re really daringly awkward. That’s the kind of stuff that Gene pulled off a lot. Something that shouldn’t feel good, but they manage to make it work.

SKF: Louie wrote Skin Deep. He may have arranged it too.

NP: I always think that those kind of arrangements must be so much fun for a drummer to play when you really know them well and you’re not having to read it. Feeling the accents and driving. A brass section in front of you like that is kind of pulling the trigger; when you get the big bass drum accent — or something — and the gun — which is the brass section — goes off. That must be a great feeling of power and control when it’s perfectly timed.

SKF: Have you heard much of Louie Bellson?

NP: Just in my beginning years when my drum teacher use to play me Buddy and Gene. Other than that? No.

SKF: Louie’s double bass drumming didn’t influence you?

NP: Only indirectly. I think it was an influence just because Louie Bellson did use them. By the time I was playing, other people were using double bass drums also. So his influence had become diffused.

— end —

About Scott K Fish
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2 Responses to Neil Peart on Louie Bellson’s ‘Skin Deep’

  1. Pingback: Neil Peart on Keith Moon’s ‘Dogs Part Two’ | Scott K Fish

  2. Pingback: Neil Peart on Joe Morello’s ‘Shortnin’ Bread’ | Scott K Fish

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