Recommended Posts

I have some stories on DCP about the famed summer of 1971, when the then traditionalists allegedly voiced their displeasure about the new direction that drum corps was headed. I marched in the 90's, so this happened way before I was born. What exactly went on that summer? What was it exactly about Garfield, Madison, and Cavaliers (am I right?) that rubbed people the wrong way?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 209
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Mike their drum line wasn't just "very good".  They took high drums at VFW Nationals in 68 and were undefeated!  That was a killer drum line.

Ken Norman

lol I just realized this thread is 10 years old....lol

I have some stories on DCP about the famed summer of 1971, when the then traditionalists allegedly voiced their displeasure about the new direction that drum corps was headed. I marched in the 90's, so this happened way before I was born. What exactly went on that summer? What was it exactly about Garfield, Madison, and Cavaliers (am I right?) that rubbed people the wrong way?

Hi. Good questions. I answer them in longer form in my book about The Cavaliers and their founder Don Warren, but here's the "Colt's Notes" version.

In the summer of 1970, the year before, Don Warren finally gave voice to some of his frustrations with the then-veterans-run youth drum corps activity in an unlikely place: the men's room at a stadium in Delevan, Wisconsin. Standing next to him at the urinals was rival corps director and good buddy Jim Jones of The Troopers. Among their concerns was sometimes scattershot judging (including a prominent judge standing and applauding at a contest), differing ageout rules among the activity's governing bodies, and a division of profits from shows that wasn't very equitable to corps. Basically, the first few places could count on prize money, but after that, you got nothing. And show sponsors pocketed the rest or did with it what they will.

Don Warren's idea was a kind of drum corps union -- several corps could team up to offer their product to show sponsors as a package deal, and thus control the money they'd get and the rights to their creative product. Up until then, anyone could come in and tape or photograph corps and the corps themselves would not be compensated. This was big business for bootleggers. Warren and Jones ultimately joined with Madison Scouts, Blue Stars and Santa Clara Vanguard the summer of 1971 to form the Midwest Combine.

At the same time, Cavaliers percussion instructor Larry McCormick was taking the corps' program in a new direction. Hearing that judges would be looking for a "total show" concept -- with points to general effect -- Larry hatched The Circus Show, which was pretty revolutionary for its day, and definitely different to see the Green Machine -- always known for its military precision and maneuvers -- taking the field with a ringmaster, acrobat and clown and dancing Irish Jigs and playing circus music. Madison was also putting out its Alice and Wonderland show. By season's end, the perennial title contending Cavaliers were in 8th place, and the VFW actually crafted penalties to punish corps for members appearing in costume. Quite different from today, eh? The result was that the Cavaliers and others skipped VFW. It was the first chime in the death knell for the veterans-run shows. But fans reacted jeeringly -- audible boos from the stands, a T-Shirt reading Drum Corps Died in 1971 (with a clown above it), and a cartoon in an eastern drum corps magazine advertising that Drum Corps is Dead, with a guy looking a lot like Warren driving a farming combine (get it?) over a kid wearing a marching uniform and shako. Yikes.

That winter, at the Legion's convention in Indianapolis (irony alert!), the Combine met in secret with its counterparts in the Eastern United Organizaton of Junior Corps. They voted, and formed Drum Corps International, with 13 charter corps. They crafted their own rules, set up their own contests, and with each of the directors on the line PERSONALLY for a bank loan to finance their first championship, hosted that contest in August 1972 in Whitewater, Wisc. Anaheim won the first championship, and within a few years Santa Clara Vanguard was dancing, the Cadets were singing "Amen," and the rest is history!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - I marched starting in 73 and aged out in 77. In some instances, you could say that 1972 was the birth of drum corps.

In some circles, you could say that every era has caused the demise of drum corps - but that is a far reaching conclusion. Athletics and the pursuit of college scholarships, lack of interest and commitement by a management team, the lack of operating $$$$$ are all parts of the formula.

From where I sit, 1971 was just another statement of resisting authority. It is almost fitting to be in the end of the Vietnam Era - with the political and emotional turmoil the country was facing, drum corps was trying to liberate itself from an unreasonable hierachy.

I enjoyed Cavies - and Madion - and Argonne very much. They were great shows - Greater Boston has always LOVED great corps, no matter where they are from.

While those corps might be mentioned as the radicals with their program selection in 1971, it was a collective agreement by the top 13 corps to create an organization that protected their own interests in 1972.

I would bet the farm on this: had DCI (and those founding fathers - George Bonfiglio, Gayle Royer, Don Warren, Jim Jones, Hugh Mahon, Bill Howard, et al) not taken the initiative to forge ahead, there would not be any drum corps today. To my knowledge, there are no American Legion or VFW posts that sponsor a competitve junior drum corps.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I have some stories on DCP about the famed summer of 1971, when the then traditionalists allegedly voiced their displeasure about the new direction that drum corps was headed. I marched in the 90's, so this happened way before I was born. What exactly went on that summer? What was it exactly about Garfield, Madison, and Cavaliers (am I right?) that rubbed people the wrong way?

Change rubbed some the wrong way...as it dontinues to do to this day, witness the DCP furor over new rules. Colt gives a nice midwest summary, and I'd add Garfield to that out East, as we did our Revolutionary War show in 71, complete with printed libretto a decade prior to Regiment. Dick Blake, editor (and owner??) of Drum Corps News did a scathing editorial on our three themed shows, which he later took back.

We were fairly successful, usually ending up just behind 27th and Blue Rock much of the year and ahead of the rest of the Eastern corps most of the time. That was not bad considering our average age was VERY young, esp as compared to Blue Rock, who had an amazing corps in 71 (as did 27th).

Before I forget, you have to also add two other Eastern shows to the mix...St Rita's and even Blessed Sac's "King and I" show.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for rounding out my summary, Mike! I remember hearing about your Revolutionary War show -- awesome! What a year... gotta love it.

:thumbup:

Link to post
Share on other sites
.... Among their concerns was sometimes scattershot judging, differing .... rules among the activity's governing bodies, and a division of profits from shows that wasn't very equitable to corps. Basically, the first few places could count on prize money, but after that, you got nothing. And show sponsors pocketed the rest or did with it what they will.

Colt hope you don't mind that I chopped your first paragraph to give a quick 'n dirty history of DCA being formed (mid 1960s). With all the DCI vs DCI pot shots being posted on DCP, it's easy to forget that both circuits were formed for pretty much the same reasons. LOL, probably the biggest difference was DCA was having problems with the American Legion and DCI had problems with the VFW.

Madison was also putting out its Alice and Wonderland show. By season's end, the perennial title contending Cavaliers were in 8th place, and the VFW actually crafted penalties to punish corps for members appearing in costume. Quite different from today, eh? The result was that the Cavaliers and others skipped VFW.

Didn't Madison do the 'Alice in Wonderland" show at VFW with no costumes or props? Must have been bizarre to see....

Edited by JimF-3rdBari
Link to post
Share on other sites
Colt hope you don't mind that I chopped your first paragraph to give a quick 'n dirty history of DCA being formed (mid 1960s). With all the DCI vs DCI pot shots being posted on DCP, it's easy to forget that both circuits were formed for pretty much the same reasons. LOL, probably the biggest difference was DCA was having problems with the American Legion and DCI had problems with the VFW.

Didn't Madison do the 'Alice in Wonderland" show at VFW with no costumes or props? Must have been bizarre to see....

All fascinating, Jim. Thanks for the update. And as a Coda, the Legion hosted junior contests through 1980 and the VFW through 1984, but you can see by the lineups that very few of the top-tier corps were attending late in the game (though Phantom Regiment won the final VFW contest!). What was it like for DCA and senior corps?

Link to post
Share on other sites
All fascinating, Jim. Thanks for the update. And as a Coda, the Legion hosted junior contests through 1980 and the VFW through 1984, but you can see by the lineups that very few of the top-tier corps were attending late in the game (though Phantom Regiment won the final VFW contest!). What was it like for DCA and senior corps?

Well VFW dropped the Senior contests after 1962 or so. Think I asked why on DCP a while back but forget if I got a definite answer. Only a few corps even competed the last few years which might have been the problem.

Far as good/so-so/no Senior corps for the AL, it depended where the show was held. 1980 AL was at Boston which had a strong line up. I was in the 1978 show at New Orleans which had a grand total of two Senior corps in attendance. Corps were Westshoremen and Chicago Connection who came in 9th and 11th(?) aat DCA a few weeks later.

AL and VFW scores can be found on srcorps.com if anyone wants to check......

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • JohnZ locked this topic
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.