Krupa, Gene

Krupa, Gene

(1909–73) musician; born in Chicago. A drummer, he played with several lesser known bands around Chicago until 1929, when he moved to New York City and worked with Red Nichols for the next two years. He was a sideman in commercial studio bands led by Russ Columbo and Mal Hallet between 1932–34, when he also free-lanced on classic jazz sessions with Bix Beiderbecke and Eddie Condon. Between 1935–38, as a main attraction in Benny Goodman's orchestra, he became the first world-renowned jazz drummer. In 1938, he formed his own successful big band, which he led until 1943, when he played briefly with Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. He led another "big band" between 1945–51, then appeared with Jazz at the Philharmonic throughout the 1950s. He led his own small groups thereafter while operating a drum-tuition school, which he opned with Cozy Cole in New York in 1954. A sensationalized biographical film, The Gene Krupa Story, for which he recorded the soundtrack, was released in 1959.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.