Happy Birthday, Gene Krupa!
Gene Krupa (January 15, 1909 – October 16, 1973) was an American jazz and big band drummer who was slated for the priesthood, until he decided to pursue his love of music. Krupa was known for his highly energetic style and played for the "King of Swing", Benny Goodman's band. Krupa is featured in their hit song, "Sing, Sing, Sing" and his performance includes the first extended drum solos to be recorded commericially. In 1939, Krupa and his Orchestra appeared in Some Like It Hot, and in 1941 he made a cameo appearance in Ball of Fire. Krupa was a highly respected musician and teacher, and his pupils included Peter Criss of KISS and Jerry Nolan from The New York Dolls.
Eugene Bertram Krupa was born in Chicago and became associated with "Chicago Style" jazz soon after he made his first recordings in 1927, playing with Eddie Condon and Red McKenzie. Songs recorded in his first session include "China Boy", "Sugar", "Nobody's Sweetheart" and "Liza". Krupa was heavily influenced by drummer Warren "Baby" Dodds, whose use of press rolls were featured in Krupa's own music. Krupa is often considered the first drum "soloist".
Gene Krupa in Ball of Fire, via Classic Blue Notes
In 1934, Krupa joined Benny Goodman's band, at which point he earned national acclaim. With the "King of Swing", Gene played on hit songs including "Sing, Sing, Sing" and "Drum Boogie", which was sung by Barbara Stanwyck when she starred in Ball of Fire.
After the 1940s, Krupa gradually reduced the size of his band, although he continued to lead trios or quartet arrangements. He often appeared on Jazz At the Philharmonic shows. In 1954, Krupa began acting again, with parts in The Glenn Miller Story and The Benny Goodman Story. In 1959, Sal Mineo played the musician in The Gene Krupa Story, which Krupa considered extremely accurate.
Gene Krupa with Buddy Rich, 1956 via Drummerman
Gene Krupa and drummer Buddy Rich often "faced off" in drum battles which were often broadcast on television. They recorded two studio albums together: Krupa and Rich (1955) and Burnin' Beat (1962).
Krupa collaborated with drum manufacturer Armand Zildjian of the Avedis Zildjian Company to develop the modern hi-hat cymbals and popularized many cymbal techniques which have become standards.
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 1982. In 1978, he became the first drummer to be inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.
Krupa is mentioned in an episode of The Simpsons, "Hurricane Neddy", when Ned Flanders' parents are told they must control their son and they reply, "We can't do it man! That's discipline! That's like tellin' Gene Krupa not to go "Boom boom bah bah bah, boom boom bah bah bah, boom boom boom bah bah bah bah, boom boom tss!".
- Birthday Date: Wednesday, 15 January 2014