Big Sid Catlett

Big Sid Catlett, born Sidney Catlett on January 17, 1910 in Evansville, IN, was an American jazz drummer who played everything from dixieland to bebop, working with the likes of Benny Carter, Fletcher Henderson, Elmer Snowden, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Benny Goodman, Teddy Wilson, Harry Gibson, and Louis Armstrong.

Catlett was introduced to the drums and piano at an early age. His family moved to Chicago at which time he received his first drumkit.

At the age of eighteen, Catlett began performing with Darnell Howard, a violinist and clarinetist, and later joined pianist Sammy Stewart's orchestra in New York City where they frequently played at the Savoy Ballroom. 

In the 1930s, Catlett soon moved on to higher profile music acts, recording and performing with Benny Carter, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, Fletcher Henderson, and Don Redman. Catlett went to become Louis Armstrong's "drummer of choice" from 1938 to 1942 and was regularly featured in Armstrong's big band. It was during this time that he periodically joined Benny Goodman's group.

Catlett collaborated with Duke Ellington for a brief time in 1945, then went on to lead his own bands through the remainder of the 1940s. He was also involved in Louis Armstrong's All-Stars between 1947 and 1949.

After dealing with pneumonia, Catlett died in Chicago on March 25, 1951 from a heart-attack; he was 41.

Big Sid Catlett was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame posthumous in 1996.