Remembering ‘The World’s Greatest Drummer’

SKF NOTE – My Uncle Bob sparked my lifelong love of all things drums. And one vivid recollection of Uncle Bob, probably in the late 1950s or early 1960s (he died when I was age 14) is him telling my brother Craig and me, “The world’s greatest drummer is Louis Bellson.”

Yeah, I know “the world’s greatest drummer” designation is arguable, but I remembered Louie’s name. In the early 70s, living in Davenport, IA, I was excited to learn Louie’s hometown of Moline, IL was just across the Mississippi River. I met several people who knew Louie and had seen him play at area nightclubs.

Louie’s dad’s music store, where Louie studied drums, was still in business. And one afternoon I had a chance to see Louie in person at a local high school gymnasium, I believe.

This 1969 Rogers Drum ad featuring Bellson is one of my favorite photos of the drummer. During his long career Louie endorsed several drum brands. Pearl, Gretsch, Slingerland, and Remo come to mind. And whether or not he was “the world’s greatest drummer,” Louie Bellson was certainly one of them.

Fortunately for drummer alive today, and for drummers yet born, Bellson made a bunch of records with other bandleaders and under his own name. And there are several worthwhile Bellson videos available.

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