Josh Duffee of Davenport greets Louie Bellson again on his birthday, July 6

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Louie Bellson, who grew up in Moline, pictured with his patented double bass drum set, circa 1947 (early 20s).

Tuesday July 6 would have been the 97 of legendary jazz drummer Louie Bellsone birthday. Davenport drummer Josh Duffee will perform a snare solo on his Bellson Model Remo snare drum to celebrate his birthday, next to Bellson’s grave at Moline Riverside Cemetery.

Duffee will broadcast a Facebook Live video stream from his Facebook page and be at Bellson’s grave at the exact time of his birth (Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni) – 3:15 p.m. – in Rock Falls, Illinois on July 6 1924.

“This event will allow his fans around the world to help celebrate his special day,” said Duffee (a longtime Bellson champion and student). “I try to perform near his grave every year for his birthday and the day he passes away. I played it last year in the morning before the heat of the day arrived.

Josh Duffee, who is also a graduate of Moline High, has met Bellson several times over the years, including here in October 2008 at River Music Experience, Davenport.

Josh Duffee, who is also a graduate of Moline High, has met Bellson several times over the years, including here in October 2008 at River Music Experience, Davenport.

In Rock Falls, Bellson’s father owned a music store, and Louie started playing drums at the age of three. While still a young child, Bellson’s father moved the family and the music store to Moline. At 15, he pioneered the use of two bass drums at the same time, a technique he invented in his art class at Moline High School, according to his biography.

On February 14, 2009, Bellson died at the age of 84 of complications from a hip fracture suffered in December 2008 and Parkinson’s disease, and is buried next to his father at Riverside Cemetery, 3400 5e Avenue, Moline.

Duffee rescheduled a 20 speciale– anniversary concert tribute to Gene Krupa (since it rained on June 29), at the same location – Lincoln Park in Rock Island, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27e.

On June 30, 2001, the Josh Duffee Orchestra paid tribute to Krupa at the then-community center, Moline, on 5e Avenue, less than two blocks from where the Bellson family operated a music store at 1711 5e Ave. Then graduated from Moline High at age 21, Duffee knew his way around a drums intimately and adored both Gene Krupa (1909-1973) and Louie Bellson (1924-2009) – the latter a Moline alum who in 1941 , at 17, won the Gene Krupa National Slingerland Drum Contest in New York, among 40,000 drummers.

Duffee playing on one of Bellson's old drum kits.

Duffee playing on one of Bellson’s old drum kits.

Today, 20 years later, Duffee and his big band will celebrate that successful debut with a free Krupa tribute concert in Lincoln Park, 1120 40e St., Rock Island, as part of the Starlight Revue concert series.

Josh Duffee of Davenport greets Louie Bellson again on his birthday, July 6

Jonathan Turner has covered the Quad-Cities art scene for 25 years, first as a reporter for the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, then as a reporter for the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has often been seen on local theater stages, most notably at Bucktown Revue and the Black Box Theater.


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