Special Collections and Archives
researched by Music Librarian Christopher Popa
Michael Berkowitz organized a new Gene Krupa Orchestra in 2003, but there was one major stumbling block right away.
"The book didn't exist," Berkowitz told me. "Gene's book and a lot of his mementos and things were burned in a fire in his house in, I think, 1971. Joe Vetrano, who lives in Chicago, he's about 55 years old, a fairly young guy . . . a Krupa sidekick, [ he ] kind of verified to me that he left the house at one point and said he smelled gas and Gene didn't think abything about it and the
next . . . night, there was a fire in his kind of den, and so the music and the mementos were gone."
So a new music library was assembled from several different sources.
"I have the music, Quincy Jones gave me the music to the 'Drummer Man' album. Billy Byers wrote some of those charts, Manny Albam, Nat Pierce, and Quincy, actually, wrote some of those charts. They're great, and they are newer versions of the older hits," Berkowitz said.
He also had a number of tunes transcribed from Krupa's original recordings.
"I just got That Drummer's Band done this week," he reported in August 2005. "Also, Jay Corre, who used to play with [ Buddy Rich's ] band, a tenor player, worked with the Jack Platt band in Florida. He had transcribed all the quartet pieces, so, even though I'd been playing those, they'd been, basically, 'head' arrangements. So we have those things written, as well."
Other memorabilia, such as a print of the portrait of Krupa by photographer James J. Kriegsmann, shown below, is in the hands of private collectors.
Berkowitz, Mike. Interview with author, Aug. 1, 2005.