Drums Corps in Evansville was the foundation of DRUMS on the OHIO. The vision of starting a drum corps began in 1979 by several men, including John McConnell and Ken Olsen. These men had the vision for The Imperial Guard and put forth the effort that enabled the corps to exist. The Imperial Guard debut was in 1980. There had been several junior corps in Evansville prior to this but none in association with Drum Corps International. The Evansville corps was an “A” corps or open class corps.
With some of the best writers at the time, the drill and music came to life. Rehearsals were held in various areas. Yankeetown school, Roberts Stadium parking lot, Owensville School, and even a place called Friendship Farms to name a few. Practice days were similar to today’s schedules: awaken, eat, stretch & exercise, rehearse, eat, rehearse, bed and repeat.
G bugles were brand new to the corps. The percussion line consisted of snares, tenors and bass drums. The front ensemble was on the 50 yard line and would move forward and backward on occasion. Staff consisted of 12 people at that time in the brass, percussion, color guard and visual areas. The uniforms were made of wool with black bibbers a red jacket and black shakos.
The Imperial Guard marched approximately 100 members at the most. The corps traveled with one coach bus from Audubon trails and one semi-tractor trailer. Tour fees were approximately $400 at the time. Travel destinations included, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania, and ended up in Montreal for two days of quarter final competition. The highest title won was in 1981-32nd place Drum Corps International. The first year of existence was an exhibition year as mandated by DCI.
The existence of The Imperial Guard was only for 3 seasons, years 1980, 1981 and 1982. Camps continued through the early months of 1983 but funding was depleted and the corps was disbanded and not able to compete for the 1983 season.
The history books and alumni hold the memories now of The Imperial Guard Drum and Bugle Corps. We celebrate the legacy left from this Evansville drum corps. Their hard work and dedication over 35 years ago laid the foundation of what DRUMS on the OHIO is now. Thank you for sharing your dream and giving many the experience of a lifetime with DRUMS on the OHIO.
DCI Prelims, Birmingham, Alabama, 1980. Maiden competitive year for Evansville, Indiana IMPERIAL GUARD Drum & Bugle Corp.
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