Krupa, Gene (1909-1973)

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Krupa, Gene (1909-1973)

Gene Krupa was the most famous drummer of the big band era. His work, first with Benny Goodman and later with his own band, defined jazz drumming for generations of percussionists. His flamboyant style and boundless energy made him the center of attention whenever he played. Krupa was the first legitimate superstar of the drum set, and his work on the classic Goodman tune "Sing, Sing, Sing" was the first extended drum solo in recorded music history. His solos combined controlled frenzy and musical genius.

Krupa's battles with addiction essentially ended his career in the 1940s. Unable to control his cravings, his skills and popularity rapidly diminished. Although he enjoyed a brief revival in the 1950s when his life story was made into a film with young star Sal Mineo, Krupa never regained his previous international fame.

—Geoff Peterson

Further Reading:

Crowther, B. Gene Krupa, His Life & Times. New York, Universe Books, 1987.

Klauber, B. H. World of Gene Krupa: That Legendary Drummin'

Man. New York, Pathfinder Publishers, 1990.