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  1. #1
    Hang 'Em High RRMB's Avatar
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    03.13.16 @ 06:04 PM
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    Hometown says goodbye to Bellson

    Louis Bellson was one of my areas BIGGEST icons. I had the pleasure of seeing him in his last ever appearance in early February, among a handful of other times in my life. One memorable time was in 1982 when he, and his late wife Pearl Bailey, did a 4th of July concert at Soule Bowl in East Moline, IL.

    If not for Bellson revolutionizing the insturment, rock drummers would likely noy been inspired to use a double kick.

    Amid a sun-kissed day surrounded by friends and family, Louie Bellson was eulogized as a kind, caring and loving man. A man who cherished his relationship with Christ, loved ever-so deeply his family and was a man who refused to forget his roots.
    Louis Paul Bellson's memorial service held one sentiment that returned time and time again; he was as caring as he was gifted.

    Pastor Dan Qualls, who eloquently handled the service, offered a story Mr. Bellson's widow, Francine, shared with him recently.
    It was typical of the man, who left us Feb. 14, at age 84.

    "Louie and the great Quincy Jones took a break from work and were walking down the side of the street,'' Rev. Qualls said. "And Louie asks Quincy to go to the other side of the street and Quincy asks why?

    "Because the man ahead owes me money and I don't want to make him feel bad,'' Mr. Bellson said.

    It was, if you've ever asked anyone their impression of Mr. Bellson, typical of the man.
    The world knew Mr. Bellson as the greatest drummer of our time -- the man who played with Count Bassie, Duke Ellington and Harry James. The man who revolutionized jazz drumming with a two-bass look, who penned over 1,000 songs, wrote 12 books on the art of percussion and was awarded four honorary doctorates of music.

    "It was an eloquent tribute to an elegant man,'' said Ellis Kell, director of programming and the man in charge of music in education the River Music Experience. Mr. Kell, a gifted blues musician, also posses an amazing musical resume. "It brought to light a humble and wonderful man.''

    In 1952 he married Pearl Bailey in London, England, and became her musical director. Their marriage would last until Bailey's death in 1990. He married Francine in 1992.

    "Louie Bellson was the kindest, most humble professional musician I have ever had the honor to work with,"Mr. Kell said. "If I to describe him in a few words, it would be as ‘an elegant gentleman". He was a consummate professional in all respects. A true American musical icon has passed, and there will never be another like him."

    Though raised in Moline and forever recognized as one of its famous sons, Mr. Bellson was born in Rock Falls, Ill.

    "That's enough of that Quad-Cities stuff,'' joked pastor Dalmus Meeks, he of the Harvest Time Baptist Church, at Rock Falls. "Seriously it was a great day each time Louie and Francine came to see us in Rock Falls. We were truly blessed to have them with us.''

    The day was filled with Mr. Bellson's music, audio from his album "Sacred Music of Louie Bellson'' and the single "Thank You Lord,'' were highlighted.

    Rev. Qualls shared a bit of Louie Bellson trivia with those gathered, noting that Mr. Bellson's nickname was "Apples.''

    "There was a time when Louie would be on the road for great stretches and there were other musicians who took to using the brown bag and the alcohol in that bag,'' he said. "And there was Louie with his own brown bag. His, though, was filled with apples.''

    There has never been been a question about Mr. Bellson's fame. That he was star of the highest magnitude will never be challenged. But Rev. Qualls shared just how much Mr. Bellson was respected by our country's leaders.

    "Did you know that Louie Bellson was the second-most invited guest to the White House?'' Rev. Qualls related. "Trailing only the great Bob Hope.''

    But famous was just a word to Mr. Bellson.

    "Not only was he the best drummer, he was the best person I know,'' Rev Qualls said, sharing a Tony Bennett quote about Mr. Bellson.

    "He was the only man who when he played by himself sounds like a symphony orchestra,'' Rev Qualls noted that the late, great Sammy Davis, Jr., said of Mr. Bellson.

    Amid the 65-minute tribute to the local legend, an 8-minute clip of Mr. Bellson being featured by CBS Sunday Morning, left a lasting impression.

    Not for the amazing skill by which Mr. Bellson possessed. Not even for the large crowds that clamored about the world to see him play.

    What came to light was Mr. Bellson posing for every picture, signing every autograph and making each conversation -- whether it was with world leaders or nervous fans -- seem as though it was the most important thing in the world to him.

    And it was.

    Louie Bellson conducts a drumming clinic at Ernie George Music Store in downtown Moline in March 25, 1969. There were over 100 youngsters on hand for the clinic.

    Last edited by RRMB; 03.04.09 at 04:30 PM.
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  2. #2
    Hot For Teacher drummr's Avatar
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    04.21.16 @ 09:55 AM
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    Louis Bellson was a class act. I had the honor of meeting him in the early 90s while working at Drum World in San Francisco. Drum World was hosting a drum clinic with Louie and Terry Bozzio and I was working at the store before the clinic was to take place and then Louie walks in, comes right over to me, shakes my hand and introduces himself. I was so impressed and star struck that Louie would even give me the time of day. I mean it was Louis Bellson, drumming legend, and I was just some kid polishing drums at the shop, but he treated me like an old friend. I'll never forget that. May he rest in peace.



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