Drum Solo by Gene Krupa?
October 7, 2006 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Help me find this movie. Years ago I saw a film clip with a great drum solo. I think it was Louis Prima conducting Sing, Sing, Sing. In the middle, the drummer, I'm sure it was Gene Krupa, starts his solo and doesn't stop, so the band members all get up and go out for a smoke. After a few minutes they all come back in & start playing again. It's a great solo. Does anyone know the name of that movie?
posted by RussHy to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be The Benny Goodman Story? It would be Benny Goodman conducting, though, not Louis Prima. I know they perform Sing, Sing, Sing in it, although I don't recall the particulars.
posted by iconomy at 6:48 AM on October 7, 2006

Oh also, there's a movie called Sing, Sing, Sing, with Gene Krupa in it, but there was a clip from it at Drummerworld, and there was no smoke break.
posted by iconomy at 6:48 AM on October 7, 2006

For what it's worth, Travis McGee loved that solo, but he had it on an audio recording. I'll try to remember which book.

IMDB search of Krupa led me here to the last link on the page ("Archive Footage" item 7).

"For Auld Lang Syne".

Archive footage was from "Hollywood Hotel", so we search for that in IMDB. This is the soundtrack listing for this page.
posted by Phred182 at 6:56 AM on October 7, 2006

I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Howard Hawks's terrific Ball of Fire.

(Easy to find by searching IMDB for "gene krupa.")
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:35 AM on October 7, 2006

In Ball of Fire, Krupa performs a solo using a matchbook as a drum and matchsticks as drumsticks, but I don't recall a "smoke break." Does that ring any bells?
posted by hilker at 9:32 AM on October 7, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions...
I have looked in IMDB, but nothing looks likely. However, I'll see if I can find Ball of Fire at the video store. I don't think it's The Benny Goodman Story, but I will check that out, too. Always nice to watch Steve Allen.
posted by RussHy at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2006

Sorry, to clarify, the soundtrack listing for Hollywood Hotel, in the last linkof my post above, includes this:

"Sing, Sing, Sing"
Written by Louis Prima
Performed by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
, which includes Krupa.
posted by Phred182 at 1:20 PM on October 7, 2006

It's not Hollywood Hotel: that scene is here.
posted by joedan at 3:14 PM on October 7, 2006

You might check with the folks at MacDonald & Associates for copies of various specialty shorts and films featuring Krupa, and his various groups. Couple that come to mind as possible answers are:

Scandals of 1945 and

Drummer Man: dupe of Universal short from 1947 with only Gene Krupa peformances—songs are the following: 8-8D
—"Boogie Blues" vocal by Carolyn Grey (white scat!)
—"Stompin' at the Savoy" Krupa Jazz Trio
—"Leave Us Leap"

And now I throw in a personal Gene Krupa story:

Spring of 1970, in Memphis, TN. Memphis State University is hosting the Winter Collegiate Programming Board Workshop, which was an annual event where music, film, and lecture promotors showcased their acts and materials to college booking personnel. Every day for 4 days, all kinds of musical acts show up, starting at 10:00 a.m. for 15 minute sets, performed to several hundred bookers, who float through hotel ballrooms see acts and meeting agents, in a kind of grind that goes on until 6:00 p.m. when everybody goes and gets drunk.

Gene Krupa is, for some reason, booked in to one of these things, and winds up with 15 minute slot at 11:15 a.m. He is not happy, on so many levels, and I know this, because I'm the assistant stage manager for that ballroom on that day. We're short of experienced stage hands, we're busting a gut to move band's gear off and on a complicated turntable stage setup, without making all kinds of noise behind what ever act is out front playing.

And Krupa is not happy. Not happy to be in Memphis, not happy to be playing at 11:15 a.m., not happy with his band, a septet with some problems in the brass section. And also, not happy with us. We move his kit and his band's props and chairs on to the stage, and he's bullshit with how we handle things, and where we put them. He's still making adjustments as I give the Ready cue, and the crew gets set to revolve the manual turntable. He's standing up pointing and gesticulating as the turntable slowly spins around into the spotlight. And then he plops down, and starts hammering his tom-toms and flairing his big Zildjan cymbals, and the room drops dead quiet, and the little band starts driving a small group arrangement of "Sing, Sing, Sing".

That's when I see that Krupa is chasing his drums towards the front of the stage, a few inches every few seconds, and repeatedly sliding his stool forward to keep up with them.

This could be bad.

So, I get two stage hands off the back of the turntable, point at what is going on, and one of 'em grabs a hammer and a couple nails from a riggers box, drops down in front of the stage, crawls out, and starts to try to hammer in a couple of spikes in front of the bass drum, to keep it from sliding.

And the whole time he's hammering, so is Krupa. And Krupa is livid. After a minute or so of hammering, Krupa stands up, still pounding it out, not missing a beat, looks down over his kit at the stagehand, and screams "Keep some time, damn it!" so you could hear him on the hotel's 5th floor.

The crowd cracks up.

I wave another guy to come with me, we two crawl out at the front of the set, and with the guy that's already there, we lay on our backs for ten minutes, and push with our feet against Krupa's kit, to keep him from pushing it into the audience. He finishes his set, the crew spins the turntable, and we three "drum brakes" crawl down off the stage, and work our way backstage again.

Where I run into a still bullshit Krupa, and all I can say is how sorry we were about the problems with his set, when the kid who had the hammer comes up and says:

"Always been a big fan, Mr. Krupa. Wonder if you'd trade a hammer for a pair of sticks." And Krupa shook his head, grinned, and handed the kid his sticks as a souvenir, waved off the proffered hammer, and walked off towards his dressing room, still shaking his head.

Cool guy, Krupa. And a major reason I became a jazz fan.
posted by paulsc at 3:25 PM on October 7, 2006 [4 favorites]

If anyone is interested, you can see the scene that hilker mentioned with Krupa playing the matchbook at the end of this clip.

Great story, paul.
posted by joedan at 3:32 PM on October 7, 2006

"... Great story, paul."
posted by joedan at 6:32 PM EST on October 7

It was fairly amazing to lay there for 10 minutes, and feel Gene Krupa pounding through the soles of my feet. He wasn't a big guy, but damn! He was strong, and played so hard, I could feel the beats from the tom-toms in my chest.

It's still one of my best college age memories.
posted by paulsc at 3:57 PM on October 7, 2006

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