BiographyDrummer Gene Krupa became a star playing behind Benny Goodman at the start of the Swing era. He went on to form his own hard-swinging band and had a string of hits during World War II. The handsome tub-thumper became a household name by introducing the drum solo to popular music (though it would be unkind to blame him for the percussive excesses of the rock era) and he became a mainstay on records, radio and film -- he even had a key part in the classic screwball comedy, Ball of Fire. Krupa entered the '50s by hiring Bop and Cool jazz modernists like Gerry Mulligan, and then released a string of solid albums on Verve long after many Swing era bandleaders were made obsolete. Krupa, who set the stage for such master percussionists as Shelly Manne, Max Roach, and Buddy Rich, was portrayed by pint-sized rebel Sal Mineo in a Hollywood blockbuster about his troubled life.
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