Gene Krupa was easily one of the most colorful personalities of the big band era. Despite his outrageous stage persona, Krupa was a serious and disciplined musician whose vision changed the role of drummer forever and who helped standardize the jazz drum kit.
Eugene Bertram Krupa was born in Chicago in 1909; he began learning the saxophone at age six but switched to drums five years later because they were the cheapest item in the music store. He played in local dance bands while still in his teens, and in spite of his mother's wishes that he study for the priesthood he decided to become a professional musician.
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