Gene Krupa helped popularize the role of the drummer in mainstream jazz music. He showed that the drummer wasn't just a guy who made noise, but one of the most important sources of energy in the band. Though he spent much of his time playing with white bands, Krupa earned respect from many African-American musicians.
Krupa started in the 20s in Chicago and met up with Benny Goodman. He played with Goodman from 1935-38 before starting his own bands. In 1944 he joined Tommy Dorsey's band before going solo again.