Big Noise from Big Band Drummer Gene Krupa


Gene Krupa (1909 – 1973) pioneered orchestral jazz and Big Band from the flamboyant drum side, pounding tom-toms, high hats, and cymbals through the 30s, 40s, and 50s, as one of the most remarkable percussionists out there. 

Gene Krupa Quartet performing an awesome version of ‘Big Noise From Winnetka‘.

Rolling Stone: Krupa’s flailing attack, four-on-the-floor bass-drum tattoo and manically funky cowbell work – influenced by New Orleans drummers Baby Dodds and Zutty Singleton – drove Benny Goodman’s innovative Thirties big band to new heights and in the process inspired a generation of future rock giants, including Keith Moon and John Bonham.

STORY: Improvised Beat Generation Dreams of John Cassavetes

Big Band drummer, jazz, Gene KrupaAlong with Buddy Rich, his opponent in epic drum battles that inspired today’s “Gospel Chops” drum videos, Krupa is the godfather of drum-set artistry as sport and spectacle. The still-thriving tradition of the showstopping, arena-scale drummer star turn, from Bonham’s “Moby Dick” to Peart’s “The Rhythm Method,” is unthinkable without him.

STORY: The Supreme Love of the Church of John Coltrane

Benny Goodman – Sing Sing Sing from Carnegie Hall 1938, with Gene Krupa on drums.

In December 1934, Gene Krupa joined Benny Goodman’s band, where his featured drum work made him a national celebrity. His tom-tom interludes (with their tuneable top and bottom heads) on their hit “Sing, Sing, Sing” were the first extended drum solos to be recorded commercially.

STORY: Creators of the Cool: Miles Davis and Gil Evans

Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich Famous Drum Battle on the Sammy Davis Jr. Show

DRUMMER MAN (1947) – Gene Krupa with his Jazz Trio and with his Orchestra; Carolyn Grey, vocal; Jeanne Blanche, taps.

Updated 21 February 2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Jack Eidt

Novelist, urban theorist and designer, and environmental journalist, Jack Eidt careens down human-nature's all consuming one-way highway to its inevitable conclusion -- Wilder Utopia. He co-founded Wild Heritage Partners, based out of Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at jack (dot) eidt (at) wilderutopia (dot) com. Follow him on Twitter @WilderUtopia and @JackEidt