“Star Burst” (1947) Gene Krupa – The story of his drug bust (and frame-up).

Star Burst”

Composed by Eddie Finckel and Gene Krupa; arranged by Eddie Finckel, with assistance from Dick Taylor.

Recorded by Gene Krupa and His Orchestra for Columbia on February 8, 1947 in New York.

Gene Krupa, drums, directing: Al Porcino, Ray Triscari, Armand Anelli and Don Fagerquist, trumpets; Clay Hervey, Dick Taylor, Emil Mazanec, Jack Zimmerman, trombones; Sam Marowitz (lead) and Charlie Kennedy, alto saxophones; Buddy Wise and Mitch Melnick, tenor saxophones; Jack Schwartz, baritone saxophone; Tommy Eanelli (Ianelli), piano; Bob Lesher, guitar; Bob Strahl, bass.

As 1942 was winding down, Gene Krupa (1909-1973) was leading a very good band. Among his sidemen were trumpet titan Roy Eldridge, the young clarinet virtuoso Buddy De Franco, and the brilliant pianist Dodo Marmarosa. After over four years of non-stop toil, the Krupa band was at last doing top-level work, and making good money. The story below tells how all of that came to a grinding halt in early 1943.

The music: In 1972, Gene Krupa provided the background explaining how “Star Burst” was composed: “My original theme song was ‘Apurksody.’ Then we switched to ‘Drummin’ Man.’ In 1947, when we were going to open at the old Capitol Theater in New York, I asked Eddie Finckel, our arranger, to make up just enough music to give us time to get all the way up as the movie-theater pit rose. (Krupa  was referring to the hydraulic lifts that were installed in many of the large theaters’ orchestra pits to dramatically present swing bands after movies had ended. MZ) He came in with the melody of ‘Star Burst,’ and we used that for a while as our introductory theme. The head of Columbia Records liked the theme and said ‘Record it.’ Later, trombonist Dick Taylor embellished it, and this is how it came out. Then just for a gag, we added the little sign-off (tag ending), the thing we played to tell dancers that the set was over.” 

The composer and arranger of “Star Burst,” Eddie Finckel, later explained the title: “I’m an astronomy fan, and at my place in the country I’d been keeping track of meteor showers for years. One night I went out and saw a spectacular shower, and the sight of this glorious heavenly display suggested ‘Star Burst.’ (1)

“Star Burst” opens with a fanfare and a blast of drums, then after the tempo slows, the lovely melody is stated first by the open brass, and then by the saxophones against a soft cushion of massed open trombones. (This trombone part was created and/or enhanced by Dick Taylor.)  The open trumpets continue the melody exposition. This sequence is repeated again, and is followed by some rapid rim-shots from Gene which catapult trumpeter Don Fagerquist into a short but intense high-register solo. Fagerquist was undoubtedly the most featured trumpet soloist in this band. He was a gifted jazz player, but he could and did also play lead, when required. But the main lead trumpeters in this band were Al Porcino and Ray Triscari. It is possible that one of them played this solo.

(Above right: trumpeter Don Fagerquist plays a solo with Gene Krupa’s band – 1947.)

The main melody of “Star Burst” is reprised following a crisp, brief drum solo by Krupa, and then the “chaser” tag-ending concludes the performance.

Some thoughts about Gene Krupa the musician: Despite his frequent onstage histrionics (that audiences loved and demanded), Gene was a conscientious and highly skilled musician and bandleader. His drumming on “Star Burst” is superbly executed, and his band is immaculately rehearsed. These things did not happen by accident.

(Don’t miss the great performance of “Star Burst” by Glen Gray, featuring drummer Nick Fatool and trumpeter Conrad Gozzo, at the bottom of this post.)

The story: Within a few weeks of Gene Krupa leaving Benny Goodman’s band in March of 1938, he had put together his own big band, and opened at Atlantic City’s Steel Pier, a prime booking. At first, he gave free rein to his desire to play almost non-stop drums. Gradually, as the band and Krupa matured as a result of almost continuous touring, playing, and watching audience response, Gene toned it down, and became a much more musical drummer, comfortable and secure leading his own band.

The Krupa band worked extremely hard from its formation in 1938 until the American Federation of Musicians’ Union recording ban in mid-1942. In addition to the endless one-nighters, the band made a lot of records: 41 in 1938; 35 in 1939; 80 in 1940; 64 in 1941; and 18 in 1942, – a total of 238 sides.

As hard as the band worked, Gene himself worked even harder. His road manager Lou Zito recalled: “No one goes near Gene for at least half an hour after a stage show. He’s completely exhausted and soaked to the skin. As he comes off stage he’s wrapped in a heavy bathrobe. In the dressing room, he undresses, is wrapped in heavy bath towels, and rests until completely dry. Then he showers and gets a rubdown.” (2)

This grueling regimen resulted in ever increasing popularity for Gene Krupa. With the addition of the uniquely talented jazz singer Anita 0’Day, and the spectacular jazz trumpeter Roy Eldridge to the Krupa band in 1941, Gene was poised to leap into the top echelon of bands. But circumstances would soon conspire to reverse his hard earned success, and almost destroy his career.

Gene Krupa’s rise to national stardom was not without its personal costs. Whether he was the star drummer of Benny Goodman’s band, or the leader of his own, he was always the object of wild fan adulation. Although his wife, Ethel, often traveled with Gene and tried to be supportive, the road, not surprisingly, was not as exciting for her as it was for Gene. And the near hysteria that always surrounded her husband was also difficult for her to cope with. They bought some property in Yonkers, New York, and built a house there in 1940. Gene was seldom there. They did not have any children. They grew apart, and in 1941 they divorced, with Gene paying Ethel $100,000.00 in cash as their property settlement. (The value of dollars today would make this settlement worth about $1.5 million.) He retained the house however.

Soon after the divorce, Gene’s name became linked with those of many beautiful women, including Lana Turner. In addition, Gene was drinking more, and enjoying the road less: “That life was so full of greasy spoons and bad food. You yearned for a night off, and when you got it you’d get so drunk you wouldn’t know what was going on anyway. I used to look at the lighted windows of the houses and yearn for the same kind of life”.(3)(Above: Gene Krupa’s home at 10 Ritchie Drive, Yonkers, New York – spring 2018. Ritchie Drive is now also known as “Gene Krupa Way.”)

Like all other bandleaders in the early 1940s, Gene was confronting wartime challenges in operating his band. The draft was constantly taking his young sidemen into military service. Travel restrictions, gas rationing, and the horrendous excise tax on “luxuries” which jazz musicians called the “cabaret tax” all cut big chunks out of the band business. If a club had dancing or live music, all the prices – food, liquor, cigarettes – went up 10% to pay the cabaret tax. There was also the American Federation of Musicians’ Union recording ban. This constellation of negative factors, and a few others, ultimately resulted in the demise of the big band era.

Krupa and Lana Turner – 1942.

Nevertheless, with a large number of bandleaders themselves entering the military, and with a booming wartime economy, the demand for big bands still exceeded the supply. Gene and his band kept very busy during the early part of World War II.

To fill the voids in his personal life, his wardrobe expanded quantitatively and qualitatively. He toured with three trunks filled with custom-made clothes, including fifteen camel hair topcoats. Looking back on this time many years later Gene observed wryly, “I was sort of the poor man’s Buddy Rich. I had just about all the material things”.(4)

Suddenly it all came to a halt. The New York Times of January 21, 1943 carried this headline and story:


He Denies He Sent Boy to Get Marihuana Cigarettes

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 20 (UP) – Gene Krupa, swing band leader, pleaded innocent today to a charge that he contributed to the delinquency of a minor by sending a 17 year old boy to his hotel room for marihuana cigarettes. Judge Thomas J. Foley continued the case to January 26 on a motion by defense attorney, J.W. Ehrlich. Mr. Krupa was arrested last night by Federal narcotics agents after appearing at a local theatre. In continuing the
case, Judge Foley made public a statement which the youth, John Pateakos of Bedford, Massachusetts, made to the narcotics agents. The District Attorney’s office said that Federal agents arrested Pateakos and found marihuana cigarettes in his possession. Pateakos told the arresting officers, the District Attorney’s office said, that he had been sent to the hotel room to get the cigarettes and that he was to take them to the band leader at the theatre. At the city prison, where he was booked and released, the band leader made a general denial of the charges “as I understand them.”

Although he posted $1,000.00 bond and returned to his band pending trial, which was scheduled to take place on May 18, he discovered that he was now more a pariah than a celebrity. Down Beat, in its May 15, 1943 issue reported: “Frank Dailey, owner of the Meadowbrook (in Cedar Grove, New Jersey) where the Krupa band was working, went to the AFM (American Federation of Musicians) in an attempt to have his contract cancelled, while other reports had the Paramount Theater, where Gene is booked to follow Harry James, equally anxious to sever connections with him.”

The nation’s news media, in a characteristic orgy of overstatement (columnist and radio personality Walter Winchell, shown above right in the 1940s, was particularly vicious), accused Krupa, among other things, of causing juvenile delinquency, and popularizing zoot suits. Both charges were equally absurd, as subsequent events would show. Gene, who was eager to put this unpleasantness behind him, conducted himself as he always had, as a gentleman. But for various reasons, this incident metasticized.

On the advice of friends, Gene hired criminal defense lawyer J.W. “Jake” Ehrlich, who was reputed to be the best in San Francisco. (Ehrlich is pictured at left with Krupa in court in San Francisco – 1943.) Unbeknownst to Krupa, Ehrlich and the San Francisco District Attorney were enemies. Krupa would be a means for this D.A. to burnish his political reputation as a “crime fighter,” and in the process to beat Ehrlich in the courtroom. No doubt, Ehrlich was thinking of how to get Krupa through the criminal process with the least harm possible to Gene’s very public career. This must have been a challenge however, because negative publicity notwithstanding, the zig-zag factual development of the D.A.’s case, from the beginning, was unusual, to say the least.

The consensus story to eventually emerge then from the tangled skein of events, and be repeated many times thereafter by Krupa himself, is that the young man who had been Gene’s valet, had received his draft notice while the Krupa band was playing at the Palladium in Hollywood. In mid-January 1943, the Krupa band was about to conclude an eight week stand there that had started on November 10, 1942. Since the valet wanted to give Gene a going away present, and since Gene “had all the material things,” he decided to buy Gene some marijuana. Evidently the valet was not too discreet when he was making his purchase in Los Angeles, because Federal narcotics agents were plainly tipped off that this particular marijuana buy was going to go to Gene Krupa.

When the Krupa band closed at the Palladium they moved north to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Theater. On Gene’s arrival in San Francisco on January 18, he checked into the St. Francis Hotel, where his soon to be departing valet presented him the marijuana, unceremoniously shoving it into the pocket of one of Krupa’s coats. Gene, thinking nothing of it, headed to work. After one of the shows, he was told that Federal narcotics agents were looking for him. They apprehended Krupa at the theater and searched him, but found nothing. After they left, he called his new valet, John Pateakos, who was at the hotel (he never was at the theater that day), and told him to remove the “cigarettes” from his coat pocket, flush them down the toilet, and send the coat out to be cleaned. (Above right: Gene Krupa and John Pateakos – 1943.) Instead of doing as Krupa directed, Pateakos removed the cigarettes from the coat, and tried to leave the hotel with them. He was intercepted by the Federal agents as he was about to come down in the elevator. He was searched and immediately arrested for possession of marijuana. After arresting Pateakos, the agents returned to the theater and arrested Krupa, who was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Pateakos supposedly told the agents Krupa had told him to bring the marijuana to him at the theater.

At the arraignment on January 26, the only charge against Krupa was contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor and a violation of a California state statute. The Federal agents had by then stepped out of the picture as there was no violation of Federal law. (They would however later testify at Krupa’s trial.) Gene’s prosecution would take place in California Superior (state) Court. A trial date of May 18 was set.

Between the arraignment and the trial date, more facts would emerge, as would various erroneous assertions. The first fact was that the juvenile, Pateakos, was not 17 years old, but almost 21. Still, in those days, the age of majority was 21. Assertions were made by the agents who arrested Krupa at the theater, who later testified at trial, that they had let Gene go to the lavatory, but then saw him talking to Pateakos in a backstage hallway. Krupa insisted (truthfully) that Pateakos was not at the theater when he was arrested, or before or afterward. Indeed, it was not possible for Pateakos to have been at the theater when Gene was arrested because Pateakos was arrested before Krupa, at the hotel. Gene was arrested later, at the theater. It would have been extremely unusual for the arresting officers to take Pateakos to the theater where Krupa was working after they had arrested him. Normal police procedure after someone is arrested is that that person is taken directly to a jail facility to be booked. Nevertheless, the swirl of confusion in the D.A.’s case continued. It now appeared that a frame-up of Krupa was developing. (Below right: the marquee of the RKO Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco shortly after Gene Krupa was arrested there. This theater is located 7/10 of a mile from the St. Francis Hotel.)

It was eventually agreed between Ehrlich and Krupa that the best course of action would be for Gene to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and with no prior criminal record, he would likely receive a small fine and a suspended jail sentence. This arrangement evidently was agreed to by the San Francisco District Attorney, and Krupa voluntarily(*) flew across the country from Rhode Island, where his band was then appearing, fully intending to rejoin them, after his May 18 court appearance and guilty plea.

But again there is confusion concerning what occurred at the May 18 court hearing. Some sources have it that Gene “testified” that “an envelope containing marijuana was thrust into his hands by a stranger at the stage door,” but Krupa had no marijuana on him when he was arrested. When a criminal defendant pleads guilty, there is no need for him to testify, that is, to be put under oath and be questioned by the lawyers or the judge. At most, such a defendant, not under oath, will respond to questions by the judge regarding whether there are any mitigating factors which could influence the judge when he or she imposes sentence. Any criminal lawyer would prepare his/her client for this, and advise the less said the better. It is almost inconceivable that Krupa would have said anything like this at such a critical phase in such a sensational case. Whatever was said at this court proceeding, Judge Thomas A. Foley found Gene guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. But in the glare of national publicity, and to burnish his reputation as a “crime fighter,” he sentenced Krupa to 90 days in the county jail and fined him $500.00. Here is what the New York Times reported the next day:

The New York Times May 19, 1943
Krupa Sentenced in Drug Case

SAN FRANCISCO, MAY 18 (AP) –Gene Krupa, well-known band drummer, was sentenced to serve ninety days in the county jail and fined $500 after his plea of guilty today to a misdemeanor charge in a narcotics accusation. Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Foley said that a felony charge against Krupa for allegedly inducing a minor to transport narcotic marijuana cigarettes would be brought to trial June 8. The prosecution charged that John Pateakos, 20 year-old property man and valet to Krupa, was arrested in possession of marijuana cigarettes after Krupa allegedly sent him to his hotel room for them.

Now the swirl of confusion became a veritable tornado. An additional charge was then lodged against Krupa (presumably this was done after Gene pleaded guilty on the contributing to the delinquency of a minor), this one a felony under California law. It was alleged that Gene had used Pateakos to transport narcotics for him. The sentence for this offense was 1 to 6 years in San Quentin Prison. Gene languished in the San Francisco County Jail from May 18 until June 30, when there was a trial on the felony transporting narcotics charge. A predominantly male jury found him guilty. (Above left: Gene Krupa watches the jury leaves the courtroom to begin deliberations – June 30, 1943.) At the trial, Assistant District Attorney Leslie Gillen produced circumstantial and legally incompetent evidence that most musicians, especially drummers, used marijuana. The “experts” testifying to this were the Federal narcotics agents who arrested Gene. On wonders where they gained the expertise to testify to such matters. This is one of several blatant legal errors committed by the judge, who allowed this incompetent “expert” testimony to be admitted at the trial.

Also, John Pateakos, the D.A.’s key witness, for mysterious and suspicious reasons stated below, did not testify at Krupa’s trial. For his statement made to his arresting officers that Gene had told him to bring the marijuana to the theater, a crucial piece of evidence, to be admitted at trial, the judge overruled Ehrlich’s objection that its use, without Pateakos testifying himself, constituted hearsay. This was another glaring error of law. Everyone on Krupa’s side of the case had the feeling that Gene was being railroaded. He was sentenced to San Quentin Prison for an indeterminate 1 to 6 year term, to run concurrently with his prior 90 day sentence. Ehrlich immediately appealed this felony conviction, but Gene returned to the San Francisco County Jail to complete his 90 day sentence resulting from his guilty plea to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (At right: Gene Krupa enters a patrol wagon on June 30, 1943 after being convicted of a felony.)

John Pateakos had initially been kept in “protective custody” by the San Francisco D.A. after Gene’s arrest in January. Then, after he was released from protective custody, he disappeared, his whereabouts being unknown before and during Gene’s June 30 felony trial. Soon after the trial he was found by the FBI, living quite openly in Los Angeles, and turned over to the San Francisco District Attorney. He had been drafted, but had failed to report, in violation of federal law. In the wake of these developments, the San Francisco D.A. publicly accused Ehrlich of paying Pateakos $650.00 to stay in hiding until after Krupa’s trial. A grand jury was convened to investigate this, but Ehrlich immediately refuted these scurrilous allegations and the matter ended – almost. When Pateakos appeared in court (in an Army uniform) on February 15, 1944 on the state charges that had been made against him for carrying the marijuana, he said that he had lied, and been coached by the narcotics agents. He also stated he never had been told to bring the marijuana from the hotel to the theater by Gene Krupa.

In light of these events, one can speculate that, in order to prevent Pateakos from confronting Gene Krupa in a courtroom, and being subjected to cross-examination by Gene’s attorney, the San Francisco D.A. didn’t search too diligently for Pateakos before the June 30 trial. Moreover, the “disappearance” conveniently put Pateakos outside of the reach of any subpoena that might have been issued by Ehrlich to compel him to testify at Gene’s trial. Ehrlich had every reason to want Pateakos to testify in the courtroom. The sham grand jury investigation, accusing Ehrlich of causing Pateakos’s disappearance, now seems to have been little more than a feeble effort by the San Francisco D.A. to divert attention away from himself and onto Ehrlich regarding Pateakos’s mysterious “disappearance.”

But in July of 1943, Pateakos’s retractions were still seven months into the future. For now, Krupa was still in jail, serving his sentence for the misdemeanor he had pleaded guilty to, and was fighting to overturn on appeal the felony for which he had been convicted.

On August 9, 1943 Gene was finally released from the county jail, after having served 84 days of his 90 day sentence. A $5,000.00 bail was arranged so he could remain free while the felony conviction wended its way through the appellate process. Gene had nowhere to go, but to his empty house in Yonkers, New York. (At left: Gene Krupa leaves the San Francisco county jail – August 9, 1943.)

Life was now dramatically different for Gene. For awhile after he had been incarcerated, Roy Eldridge had tried to keep his band working. But the maelstrom of bad publicity made that impossible, and the band soon folded. Gene’s personal finances had been severely depleted while he was in jail with greatly reduced income and as a result of high legal fees. He tried to keep the remnants of his career intact. But this was not possible. His New York office rent had gone unpaid while he was in jail, and his furniture and files had been put on the sidewalk. He was now viewed as a jailbird involved with dope and juvenile delinquency, and all the band bookers shunned him. He truly thought his career was over.

But as is so often the case in human experience, there were positive aspects to this disastrous situation. Gene’s ex-wife Ethel had visited him while he was in jail. She had read the ongoing newspaper accounts of the collapse of Gene’s career, and had come to offer her support. She offered to return to Gene the $100,000.00 he paid her at the time of their divorce. They reconciled and would remarry in late 1944.

And Benny Goodman (at right – mid-1940s) had visited Gene too. The much maligned King of Swing was in California in he spring of 1943 because he and his band had just completed a feature film entitled The Gang’s All Here for Twentieth Century Fox, as well as a lengthy engagement at the Hollywood Palladium, and a shorter one at Casino Gardens in nearby Ocean Park. Goodman traveled from Los Angeles to San Francisco to visit his most famous drummer in early June. Gene was always gracious in his remarks about Goodman, and Benny on this occasion was also kind, indeed righteous, in his public remarks about Gene: “He’s a wonderful guy and a wonderful drummer. Anytime, anyplace, anywhere he wants his old job back, it’s his.” (5)

Nevertheless, few people contacted Gene in the five weeks through August and into September when he remained incommunicado at 10 Ritchie Drive in Yonkers, New York. It was rumored that he was studying harmony and arranging, as well as tympani and piano. He was also emotionally ravaged by the humiliation and frustration of the past several months, and frequently broke out in rashes.

But, once again, Benny Goodman, back in New York in September, got in touch with Gene. They talked on the phone for a while, then Goodman asked Krupa to bring his drums over to Benny’s house. “I want to hear how you’re playing” is the ploy BG used to draw Gene out of his shell. Also present at the Goodman home was guitarist Allen Reuss from the mid-30’s Goodman band. All three musicians jammed, then Benny said, “Well, when are you coming back?” Anyone who knows anything about BG knows that his panacea for all ailments and troubles was to play his clarinet. He no doubt thought playing would be just what Gene needed, and he was to be proved right, eventually. But in September of 1943, Gene, a convicted felon whose confidence had been demolished, was unsure how he would be received by audiences. The press coverage of his arrest, trial, and subsequent imprisonment had often been savage, and the people in the music business for whom he had worked, and for whom he had made so much money before the arrest, were now ostracizing him.

After more soul searching, Gene Krupa decided to rejoin Benny Goodman’s band on September 21,1943. The band was scheduled to tour a number of military bases, however a two-month engagement at the Hotel New Yorker, beginning on October 7 would be their primary showcase. Gene’s first appearance with the Goodman band was at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, where they played for Army and Navy training units. He was unbilled, but fans immediately recognized him, and welcomed him warmly. Even though he was desperately in need of funds, Gene donated his salary from the tour to the U.S.O.

When the October 7 New Yorker opening date arrived, the management there refused to allow Krupa to play with the Goodman band. Goodman responded by telling them that he would then play the engagement without a drummer. Meanwhile, there was also talk that Gene might join Tommy Dorsey’s band, then at the Hotel Pennsylvania, but this soon ended as the Penn’s management made it clear that Krupa was not welcome there either. Dorsey fumed, but he had to make a tactical retreat. He would keep the drum chair available for Gene, and Krupa would join his band as soon as he would be able to play with it wherever it performed. After a few days, the New Yorker’s bosses reached a compromise with Goodman: Krupa could play with the band, but his name could not be used on any advertisements or billing for the gig, and it could not be announced on the frequent CBS radio broadcasts from the Ice Terrace Room. Accordingly, Gene first appeared with the Goodman band at the New Yorker on October 12,1943 as an anonymous sideman. He didn’t remain anonymous for long, however. (Hotel New Yorker shown above left.)

The California Court of Appeals reversed Gene Krupa’s felony conviction on May 31, 1944. It took Gene all of 1944 and 1945 to work his way back to a place where he had a top-flight band again.

(Story to be continued in a future post presenting the music of Gene Krupa’s 1947 band.)


As a special treat, here is Glen Gray’s salute to Gene Krupa and “Star Burst,” recorded in 1960 and featuring Nick Fatool on drums and Conrad Gozzo on trumpet.

“Star Burst”

Recorded by Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra for Capitol Records in 1960 in Hollywood, California.

Glen Gray, directing: Conrad Gozzo, first and solo trumpet; Pete Candoli, Uan Rasey, Mannie Klein, and Shorty Sherock, trumpets; Milt Bernhart, Francis “Joe” Howard, Ed Kusby, tenor trombones, George Roberts, bass trombone; Arthur “Skeets” Herfurt, first alto saxophone; Arcuiso “Gus” Bivona, alto saxophone; Irving “Babe” Russin and Jules “Julie” Jacob, tenor saxophones; Chuck Gentry, baritone saxophone; Ray Sherman, piano; Jack Marshall, guitar; Meyer “Mike” Rubin, bass; Nick Fatool drums. (At left: Mannie Klein left, and Pete Candoli with George Roberts in front.)

The music: This performance is a great example of a band of veteran virtuoso swing musicians totally and completely capturing the spirit of the original recording. It is captured in superb high-fidelity stereophonic sound. In this performance, one can clearly hear the lovely trombone parts and counterlines, which were created in the original Krupa arrangement by one of Gene’s trombonists, Dick Taylor. The rest of Eddie Finckel’s composition and arrangement is also played and presented beautifully. Nick Fatool (shown at left), himself one of the greatest drummers to emerge from the swing era, plays Krups’a drum parts, and Conrad Gozzo (shown above right) plays the lead trumpet and brilliant high-register trumpet solo. When Goz plays solo, his friend Pete Candoli picks up the trumpet lead for a few bars.

Both recordings presented in this post were digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.


(1) The Swing Era – Into the Fifties, (1973) 61.

(2) Combo U.S.A./Drummin’ Man, by Rudi Blesh, (1971) 153.

(3) Jazz Life and Times, Gene Krupa, by Bruce Crowther, (1987) 78. (Light in window)

(4) Drummin’ Men, by Burt Korral, (1990) 76.

(*) Gene could have forced the District Attorney to extradite him. But this undoubtedly would have fueled the already raging flames of bad publicity.

(5) Metronome  August 1943, 7.

Links: Here is a great interview of Gene Krupa, along with a number of short video clips, that is dated March 5, 1972. It is particularly interesting to listen to Gene talk. He was a thoughtful and articulate man.


And here is a link to some work by a drummer Gene admired, Chick Webb:


Related Post


  1. It is important to have not only the real story of the great Gene Krupa’s legal issues but to also have a reminder of the imperfections in the legal and cultural norms of that time period. Running a Big Band was and is a giant undertaking and the prejudices and costs in money and personal sacrifice that the 1940’s demanded is brought home in this fine article.

  2. I know Krupa credited Fagerquist for that solo, but I remember Porcino saying it was his. Whatever else Porcino was or did, he didn’t take credit for stuff he didn’t play. I look forward to the next installment! For me, Charlie Kennedy’s arrival on lead alto changed that band dramatically, but I’ve never checked the chronology closely.

  3. All of the GREAT musical content aside, this story is an incredibly stark reminder of how much society has changed. In my opinion, some for the better, some not so much. That’s a whole other can ‘o worms!
    As always, top notch stuff, Mr. Z!

  4. In the mid 40s, my older brothers took me to The Masonic Temple in Scranton, Pa. to hear Tommy Dorsey and Gene Krupa was the drummer. I remember it well as we couldn’t believe it. We knew it was him but my brothers didn’t make any fuss. Jimmy and Tommy were both from the Scranton area and my older brothers knew them when they were with the Scranton Sirens!

    Gifford Holt

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.