Gene Krupa, born Eugene Bertram Krupa on January 15, 1909 in Chicago, IL, was an American jazz & big band drummer, composer and band leader, best known for his highly energetic and flamboyant drumming style, showmanship, and for bringing the drummer to the forefront of the band.
Krupa, who studied drums with legendary percussionist, Sanford A. Moeller, was influenced by drummers of his time, including Tubby Hall, Zutty Singleton and Baby Dodds.
He worked with numerous bands in his early years, with highlights being The Benny Goodman Orchestra, and later his own group, Gene Krupa and his Orchestra.
The Gene Krupa Story, a musical biopic based on the life of Gene Krupa (played by Sal Mineo), was released in 1959. The movie focuses on Krupa's Catholic parents wanting him to be a priest, but Gene rebels and moves away to make it as a musician in New York City, along with his friend Eddie (James Darren). He eventually falls for a girl, Ethel (Susan Kohner). But the seductions of other women, drugs and fame -- plus a lack of a formal music education -- put a strain on his personal and professional life, and Krupa must re-examine his goals. An interesting footnote is the fact that Krupa actually played the drums on the soundtrack for the film, and for the sequences in which Mineo, as Krupa, plays the drums.
Gene Krupa died of leukemia and heart failure on October 16, 1973 in Yonkers, New York at the age of 64. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City, Illinois.