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Legendary Big Band Drummer First to Utilize Double-bass Drums.

Legendary Big Band Drummer First to Utilize Double-bass Drums.

Story by UEC

Louie Bellson is considered one of the most talented and versatile drummers of the Big Band Era and has worked with the most respected names in the business including Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey. He is also credited with the invention of the two-bass drum kit.

Louie recalls how his collaboration with Gretsch helped launch his original ideas for a double bass drum kit and a revolving drum platform.

It was around 1946 when he approached the Gretsch Drum Company with his idea for a double bass drum set with multiple toms. The typical drum set of the day was a standard four piece kit. After his idea was turned down by other drum companies, Louie showed the idea to Gretsch. “I was criticized for my idea for a double bass set up. A lot of other companies weren’t too excited about constructing this kit. They said ‘What is this guy up to? What is that? He should go to the moon with Buck Rogers on that.’ Gretsch was with me all the way on it. They said ‘Yeah, OK, we’ll make it.’…”

Soon after Bellson began using the new double bass set-up he joined the Benny Goodman Band and later joined Tommy Dorsey. “When I joined Tommy Dorsey in 1947, he loved this set up. Plus we had a revolving platform that was my idea, too. When I’d play a drum solo, Tommy would push a button and turn me around.”