Gene Krupa PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 February 2009 10:08

Gene Krupa Gene Krupa

Born: January 15, 1909 Chicago, Illinois

Died: October 16, 1973 Yonkers, New York

Age: 64

Cause of death: leukemia and heart failure

Notable because: Pioneering drummer defining style of modern drumming. Invented the 'rim shot' and was first to use the bass pedal.

Gene Krupa was an influential American jazz and big band drummer and composer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style.

Krupa was born Eugene Bertram Krupa to Polish parents in Chicago, Illinois. He began playing professionally in the mid 1920s with bands in Wisconsin. He broke into the Chicago scene in 1927, when he was picked by MCA to become a member of "Thelma Terry and Her Playboys", the first notable American Jazz band (outside of all-girl bands) to be led by a female musician. The Playboys were the house band at The Golden Pumpkin nightclub in Chicago and also toured extensively throughout the eastern and central United States.

Krupa made his first recordings in 1927, with a band under the leadership of banjoist Eddie Condon and "fixer" (and sometime singer, who did not appear on the records), Red McKenzie: along with other recordings beginning in 1924 by musicians known in the "Chicago" scene such as Bix Beiderbecke, these sides are examples of "Chicago Style" jazz. The numbers recorded at that session were: "China Boy", "Sugar", "Nobody's Sweetheart" and "Liza". The McKenzie - Condon sides are also notable for being the first records to feature a full drum kit. Eddie Condon describes what happened in the Okeh Records studio on that day (in 'We Called It Music' - pub: Peter Davis, 1948):

Mezzrow (Milton "Mezz" Mezzrow) was helping Krupa set up his drums. 'What are you going to do with those?' Rockwell (Okeh's 'A&R' man in the 1920's) asked. 'Play them,' Krupa said simply. Rockwell shook his head. 'You can't do that,' he said. 'You'll ruin our equipment. All we've ever used on records are snare drums and cymbals.' Krupa, who had been practicing every day at home, looked crushed. 'How about letting us try them?' I asked. 'The drums are the backbone of the band. They hold us up.' I could see that Rockwell was leery of the whole business; drums or no drums, I figured, we are probably going to get tossed out. 'Let the kids try it', McKenzie said. 'If they go wrong I'll take the rap'. I didn't know until long afterwards that Red had guaranteed our pay for the job'...

Quietly we waited for the playback. When it came, pounding out through the big speaker, we listened stiffly for a moment. We had never been an audience for ourselves...Rockwell came out of the control-room smiling. 'We'll have to get some more of this... (Rockwell nodded towards Krupa): didn't bother the equipment at all,' he said. 'I think we've got something,'.

Krupa also appeared on six recordings made by the Thelma Terry band in 1928.[1].

Krupa studied with Sanford A. Moeller.

In 1929, he was part of the Mound City Blue Blowers sessions, that also included Red McKenzie, Glenn Miller, and Coleman Hawkins, which produced "Hello Lola" and "One Hour", which Krupa was credited with co-writing.

In 1929 he moved to New York City and worked with the band of Red Nichols. In 1934 he joined Benny Goodman's band, where his featured drum work — especially on the hit "Sing, Sing, Sing" — made him a national celebrity. In 1938, after a public fight with Goodman at the Earl Theater in Philadelphia, he left Goodman to launch his own band and had several hits with singer Anita O'Day and trumpeter Roy Eldridge.

In 1939, Gene Krupa and his Orchestra appeared in the Paramount movie Some Like It Hot, which starred Bob Hope, performing the title song, "Blue Rhythm Fantasy", and "The Lady's in Love with You". Krupa made a memorable cameo appearance in the 1941 film Ball of Fire, in which he and his band performed an extended version of the hit "Drum Boogie", which he composed with trumpeter Roy Eldridge.

Gene Krupa Drive in Yonkers, NY

In 1943, Krupa was arrested for possession of marijuana and was given a 3 month jail sentence.[2] After his release, Krupa reorganized his band with a big string section, featuring Charlie Ventura on sax. It was one of the largest dance bands of the era, sometimes containing up to forty musicians. He gradually cut down the size of the band in the late 1940s, and from 1951 on led a trio or quartet, often featuring the multi-instrumentalist Eddie Shu on tenor sax, clarinet and harmonica. He appeared regularly with the Jazz At the Philharmonic shows. The 1946 film The Best Years Of Our Lives features Gene in a short cameo.

In 1954, Gene Krupa appeared as himself, along with Louis Armstrong, in the Universal International movie The Glenn Miller Story, which starred James Stewart, June Allyson and Harry Morgan, performing "Basin Street Blues".

In 1959, the movie biography The Gene Krupa Story was released, starring Sal Mineo as Gene Krupa with a cameo appearance by Red Nichols.

He continued to perform in the 1960s even in famous clubs like the Metropole near Times Square in New York, often playing duets with African American drummer Cozy Cole. Krupa retired in the late 1960s, although he occasionally played in public in the early 1970s until shortly before his death from leukemia and heart failure in Yonkers, New York at age sixty-four. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City, Illinois.

Many consider Krupa to be one of the most influential drummers of the 20th century, particularly regarding the development of the drum kit. Many jazz historians believe he made history in 1927 as the first kit drummer ever to record using a bass drum pedal. Others, however, believe this was done earlier by Baby Dodds. His drum method was published in 1938 and immediately became the standard text. He is also credited with inventing the rim shot on the snare drum.

Krupa in the 1930s prominently featured Slingerland drums. At Krupa's urging, Slingerland developed tom-toms with tuneable top and bottom heads, which immediately became important elements of virtually every drummer's set-up. Krupa also developed and popularised many of the cymbal techniques that became standards. His collaboration with Armand Zildjian of the Avedis Zildjian Company developed the hi-hat stand and standardized the names and uses of the ride cymbal, the crash cymbal, the splash cymbal, the pang cymbal and the swish cymbal.

The British techno-rock group Apollo 440 had a hit with "Krupa" which featured the sampled phrase from the movie Taxi Driver; "Now back to Gene Krupa's syncopated style." The song itself is an electronic dance track written in the style of Gene Krupa, giving the impression of Krupa's style in the form of a 1990s dance track, blending his musical idioms with a modern song using samples and synthesised basslines.

Krupa was featured in the 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Book Revue in which a rotoscoped version of Krupa's drumming is used in an impromptu jam session.

The 1937 recording of Louis Prima's "Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)" by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra featuring Gene Krupa on drums was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

In 1978, Gene Krupa became the first drummer inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.

In season 8 of The Simpsons Krupa's name and drumming style are briefly mentioned in the episode, Hurricane Neddy.

Rhythm, the UK's best selling drum magazine voted Gene Krupa the third most influential drummer ever, in a poll conducted for it's February 2009 issue. Voters included over 50 top-name drummers.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 11:32
 

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