Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It occurs to me that one of the jackets featured in the last article (Gene Krupa and His Orchestra, AM7) was actually released in 1947 as a 78 set, replete with Jim Flora cover.  My prized reissue then (Columbia LP - C138, release date unknown) somehow takes on an even greater sphere of influence: Krupa was innovating and changing the course of drumming ten years earlier than I imagined. Billy Corgan acknowledges that his greatest influences were Beatles and Beach Boys; Jagger mentions Muddy Waters and Keith Richards, Robert Johnson. There's a Beatle-esque twinge to the production values in Smashing Pumpkins and the evolution of Robert Johnson is apparent in Richards' lead, but even when unstated, the influence of Gene Krupa on rock drumming is undeniable. 

Rolling Stone, in its 2011 reader's poll on the greatest rock drummers, lists Ginger Baker as "practically inventing" the rock drum solo. Sorry: Krupa. There's no mention of him when the two drummers who top the list are biopsied, but if you watch, let alone listen to John Bonham and Moony without seeing/hearing - feeling - Krupa, you're not really listening. Keith Moon's all-over-the-place stylings are all Krupa; Bonham's precision as well. FYI, Krupa, working alongside Avedis Zildjian, modified and popularized today's hi-hat; as well, "It was Gene who suggested that my grandfather make the cymbals thinner," said Craigie Zildjian, the company’s current CEO. "The historical significance of this innovation marks a turning point in the evolution of cymbal making. The thinner cymbals were very appealing to American drummers and, as a result, Zildjian cymbals gained widespread acceptance in the U.S."

Add Gene Krupa and His Orchestra to the list of forgotten classics: innovative, revolutionary, unparalleled musicianship, a great Jim Flora jacket - and out of print.

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