Willie Black can play anything. Beginning in 1968 on baritone with the Livingston (NJ) Imperial Guardsmen, he advanced to the Reading Buccaneers in ’72, proceeding to master multi-toms, tympani, and keyboards, in the pre-pit era when all percussion instruments were carried, not grounded. Marching in a drum line during that time was not for the faint of heart.
And Willie is a man of action. In his rookie season with the Bucs, the staff longed to increase the snare line to 10 but were shy one drum and the necessary cash. No problem. Willie Black used his high school graduation money and, voila! A new drum materialized. When Ralph Pace whimsically suggested starting the show with a bosun’s whistle, Wilson Black reported to Chief Petty Officer Wood at the Naval Air Station for lessons, and he and the whistle became a Buccaneer trademark thenceforth.
In ’75 he became Reading’s first keyboard player, coordinating the acquisition of the instrument, and scoring his own parts. By 1984 he was arranger/instructor for the expanded section. Willie designed and fabricated percussion harnesses, storage compartments for the truck, and customized the drums.
He was inducted into the Bucs Hall of Fame in 2011, taught numerous students who went on to DCA and DCI championships, lectured at Temple University, and served on the Security Staff for 10 years at DCI East. Should you ever need to be piped aboard a ship, he’ll handle that, too. Willie Black can do just about anything.