Eager to become a professional musician, Gene Krupa overcame family plans for him to enter the church. He played drums with local bands including The Frivolians and in 1927 recorded with Red McKenzie and Eddie Condon. From the end of the decade Krupa was resident in New York City and in the early 30s he played with commercial bands including those led by Russ Columbo, Mal Hallett and Buddy Rogers. He played jazz whenever he could and in 1934 became a sideman in Benny Goodman’s band. Krupa became a star with Goodman, most notably through his feature on Sing, Sing, Sing, which helped make drummers front-rank stars, The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (2006). After conflict between the two men, Krupa quit Goodman and formed his own unit in 1938. This band evolved by 1942 into an outstanding group featuring Roy Eldridge and Anita O’Day, making hit records, notably Let Me Off Uptown. After serving a prison sentence on fabricated charges that were later disproved, Krupa briefly played with Goodman, touring military camps, then joined Tommy Dorsey. In 1944 he formed a new band that included Don Fagerquist, Charlie Kennedy and Frank Rosolino, and for which Gerry Mulligan wrote arrangements. Eldridge and O’Day were briefly back with him but from the start of the 50s Krupa led small groups, toured with Jazz At The Philharmonic, and through the 60s and early 70s made appearances at reunions of The Benny Goodman Quartet. Handsome and charismatic, Krupa transformed forever the role of the drummer in jazz.
Followers: Louie Bellson, Keith Moon, Buddy Rich
Influenced By: Chick Webb, Baby Dodds...