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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Gene Krupa born 15 January 1909

Gene Krupa (January 15, 1909 – October 16, 1973) was a famous American jazz and big band drummer, known for his highly energetic and flamboyant style. Many consider Krupa to be one of the most influential drummers of the 20th century, particularly with regard to the development of the drum kit.

Eugene Bertram Krupa was born 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: these sides are now recognised as the first, and definitive, examples of white "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. Krupa also appeared on six recordings made by the Thelma Terry band in 1928.

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. 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.

In 1943, Krupa was arrested for possession of marijuana and was given a 3 month jail sentence. 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.

With the demise of big bands during the 1950s, Krupa began performing in small combos and toured internationally with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1959 his career was honored with the biographical film The Gene Krupa Story, starring Sal Mineo as the famous drummer. After suffering a heart attack in 1960, Krupa became limited to sporadic performances. During 1972 and 1973 he played
several reunion concerts with Goodman's band--one of which resulted in the 1972 live album Jazz at the New School.

On October 16, 1973, Krupa died at his home in Yonkers, New York. Though he had been under treatment for leukemia for several years, the official cause of death was heart failure. Attending a requiem mass held at St. Dennis Roman Catholic in Yonkers, Goodman, Freeman, and McPartland gathered to pay their last respects to a man known by millions of listeners as "The Chicago Flash"--the most charismatic and innovative drum legend of the Swing Era.  (info mainly from edited Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

Go here for a great 2CD compilation of Gene krupa