Chick Corea’s Ties To The Drum Corps Community

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World famous jazz pianist Chick Corea, inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 2018 for distinguished professional achievement, died February 9 at age 79 from a rare form of recently discovered cancer. He had been inducted into the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers Hall of Fame a year earlier. He was named a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master in 2006. He is also a DownBeat magazine Hall of Fame member.

In his youth, he played lead soprano on a single-valve bugle as a member of the St. Rose Scarlet Lancers of Chelsea, Massachusetts. He credited his early drum corps experiences with providing the impetus for his highly successful career.

He is the winner of 23 Grammy awards. With 63 nominations, he is the fourth most nominated artist in the history of the Grammys. He has also won three Latin Grammy Awards, the most of any artist in the Best Instrumental Album category. For this year’s March 14 Grammy awards show, he is nominated posthumously for best improvised jazz solo for All Blues and best jazz instrumental album for Trilogy 2.

His compositions, including Spain, My Spanish Heart, La Fiesta and dozens more have been covered by more than 50 competing drum and bugle corps since the early 1970s.

He left a message to his many fans on his Facebook page: “I want to thank all of those along my journey who have helped keep the music fires burning bright. It is my hope that those who have an inkling to play, write, perform or otherwise, do so. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s not only that the world needs more artists, it’s also just a lot of fun.”

His father, a jazz trumpeter and Dixieland bandleader in Boston in the 1930s and 1940s, introduced him to the piano at age four. At eight he took up drums, which later influenced his use of the piano as a percussion instrument. His first major professional gig was with Cab Calloway, followed by early performances in Latin bands led by Mongo Santamaria and Willie Bobo. In 1968, he joined Miles Davis’ band, appearing on several groundbreaking recordings pointing the way to a new direction in jazz. He was part of the electrified Davis ensemble that appeared in front of 600,000 people at the Isle of Wight Festival in England in 1970. In the early 1970s, he took a sharp turn from avant-garde to a crossover jazz/fusion style with the album Return to Forever, incorporating Latin jazz. His band of the same name relied on both acoustic and electronic instrumentation and drew upon Latin American styles more than rock music.

He is survived by his wife, Gayle Moran, and son Thaddeus. He became a member of the Church of Scientology in 1968. He had lived in Clearwater, Florida since 2001.

Regular World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members are honoured for their dedication, contributions and achievements over a long period of time in categories including administration, arranging, adjudication, instruction, innovation and design. Associate members have dedicated at least five consecutive years of service to any drum and bugle corps as a performer or in a support role. Special membership categories include inductees honoured for Distinguished Professional Achievement, International Achievement and individuals receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Current membership has grown from six charter members in 1976 to 523 men and women from the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan, including 310 regular members and 213 associates. Induction of new members was postponed in 2020 because of COVID 19 pandemic restrictions on large gatherings. An appropriate ceremony will be scheduled when conditions allow.

The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame is a non-profit organization honoring those individuals who have contributed significantly over many years to the development and continuing excellence of drum and bugle corps activity around the world. For more information, visit the website at

Posted by on Saturday, February 13th, 2021. Filed under Current News, DCI World, FrontPage Feature.