Gene Krupa! The name alone still thrills me. Gene was my first major influence way back when I was just beginning to play the set. I bought every Krupa record I could lay my hands on and then went searching for more. When I was in high school, I used to dress like him and play for Social Clubs (they were known as 'smokers' then) complete with the white dinner jacket, tousled hair and five packs of chewing gum in my mouth . I must've looked like Don Corleone of 'The Godfather' with my cheeks all puffed out. But it was fun.
I stole every lick that Gene had and then invented some that I thought he used that I hadn't heard . I saw his movies and then, finally , saw the man in person. I loved his sense of time , his use of dynamics and his incredible showmanship. When Gene Krupa took a solo, you knew it was a KRUPA solo. Nobody else sounded like him . He was unique !
I was fortunate enough to meet Gene in late 1971 while I was appearing with Mel Torme in a club in Toronto, Canada. One night, during the overture , the curtain rose and sitting there center ring side was Gene Krupa. I almost had a heart attack. He came backstage after the show and we became friends . I tried to be with him as much as I could (we were both on the road a great deal) and when I was in need of some musical and spiritual uplifting, I'd give Gene a call and we'd chat for what seemed to me, always, to be too short a time.
I loved him and I was lucky to know him. Besides bringing the drummer to the forefront of the band and making him a high-priced musician, he was probably the nicest man who ever lived. Just ask anyone who knew him . Just ask me. — Butch Miles