Mc Duffy’s Legacy

Posted on May 7th, 2024 by Gail Langan

It seems that Mike Duffy and Ken Norman shared a birthday, same day and year. Somehow, it makes total sense that these two giants were born under the same star.

The old saying among drum corps veterans of a certain era was that if you never got to play Kenny’s “Auld Lang Syne” or Duffy’s “Battle Hymn” you got cheated.

Mike wrote for all the heavies in the early DCI days: Anaheim (’72 Champs), Blue Stars (’72 runner up), Troopers (perennial contenders), and dozens of the rest. He just about invented the “Sound of DCI”.

Those who knew him considered him a “hall of Famer” before there was a Hall of Fame. Rest his remarkable soul. Mike Duffy is irreplaceable.

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The World Drum Corps Hall of Fame is proud to announce the following Inductees in the Class of 2024

Posted on April 24th, 2024 by Gail Langan

Tim Stodd (SCV, Empire, Argonauts)

Drew Shanefield (Cadets, Crown, Cavaliers)

Donnie Van Doren (Cadets, Crossmen, Crown)

Anthony Di Carlo (Annunciators, Boston, DCI)

Marc Sylvester (27th, Garfield, WGI)

George Zingali (27th, Garfield, Star)

David Hill (Des Plaines, Finleyville, Dagenham)

Merle Perkins (Spirit of St. Louis, World Blues Hall of Fame)

Alan Thompson (Southern Knights, Southwinds, DCUK)

Debra Warga (Meadowlarks, Blessed Sac, Skyliners)

William Kennedy (St. Joseph’s Islanders, Interstatesmen, Caballeros)

Andy Lisko (St. Raphael’s, Bpt. PAL, Skyliners)

Bill Gaeckle (Little Falls, Garfield, USMC)

Robert Dubinski (Garfield, Bridgemen, Star)

Robert Fizette (Avant Garde, Reading Bucs, Skyliners)

Complete bios, and details regarding the 2024 Induction Ceremony will be available on

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2024 Candidate Submission Deadline – February 15

Posted on February 5th, 2024 by Gail Langan

Any interested party is invited to submit a candidate for membership in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

The 2024 deadline is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15.

Find the Criteria and Submission forms here:

Click on “Membership” or “Associate Membership” for Criteria, then select the appropriate Submission form.

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Michael Smith – WDCHOF Scholarship Success Story

Posted on January 15th, 2024 by Gail Langan

The son of Hall of Fame member Neal Smith (Class of 2008), Michael Smith is a 2-time recipient of the Hall of Fame Scholarship, support from which helped him achieve his MA from Boston College and PhD in English from Duquesne University.

Currently he is Program Officer of the Fine Foundation, in charge of grantmaking portfolios for arts and culture organizations. Michael also serves on the board of PA Humanities and sits on the Committee on Honors and Awards for the Modern Language Association, and the Finance Committee of the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry.

He has reviewed grants for the Whiting Foundation, and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. His work on the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser and his interview with the esteemed Bertrand Westphal have been published in MDPI’s “Humanities” and the SJU Humanities Review, respectively.

Michael has taught at Marian Court College, Pine Manor College, Robert Morris University and Penn State, and consulted for philanthropy-based organizations like Aperio, LLC and Grantmakers of Western PA.

The WDCHOF Scholarship, in his words, allowed him to “concentrate more deeply on my academic work”. In facilitating grants for non-profit organizations in the Arts and Humanities, Michael demonstrates the far-reaching benefits to society at large of the support he received from the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, a proof of the value of the organization itself.

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Bill McGrath…His Life Set the Example

Posted on November 26th, 2023 by Gail Langan

By the way he lived his life, Bill McGrath defined the concept of “the Good Soldier”. The values and discipline he absorbed in Drum Corps as a member of the Chili (“Chai-lai”) Crimson Cadets and the Emerald Cadets/Emerald Statesmen (directed by his father, William, Sr.) shaped his attitudes about loyalty and responsibility. When his country called, he enlisted in the Marines, becoming both member and instructor for The Commandant’s Own Drum and Bugle Corps in Washington, D.C., from 1969 to ’71.

He went on to teach the Baltimore Yankee Rebels and Rochester Crusaders, both of them American Legion National Champions. Others who benefitted from his tutoring include the Rochester Phoenix, the Patriots, and Mighty St. Joe’s Alumni, where he both instructed and played in the snare line.

In addition, Sergeant First-Class McGrath served as percussion section leader with the 98th Division US Army Reserve Band, from 1989 to 2006, and was recognized with the Army Achievement, Army Commendation, and Army Meritorious Service medals.

Bill adjudicated percussion for the Western New York Judges Association, NY Federation of Contest Judges, NY State Field Band Conference, NYSSMA, DCA, and DCI.

He was granted Lifetime Membership and Lifetime Achievement Awards by the US Association of Rudimental Drummers, and Honorary Membership in the National Association of Rudimental Drummers. He also holds membership in the American Patriots Rudimental Drum Club Hall of Fame, the Drumming for Veterans Hall of Fame, the Maryland Drum Corps Hall of Fame, and the Rochester Crusaders Hall of Fame.

In 1994, Bill McGrath was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, serving on that board since then as Historian, Chaplain, and Yearbook Editor…simultaneously.

Whenever a mission needed a leader, he was the first to volunteer and, even in his final weeks, he was determined to see to it that the 2023 WDCHOF Yearbook would be ready on time. Mission accomplished, …by Bill McGrath, Good Soldier.

Drum Corps will not see his like again, but we were all privileged to share the field with him.

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Tracking Success – Hall of Fame Scholarship Recipients – Joseph Marrella

Posted on April 25th, 2023 by Gail Langan

Thanks to the generosity of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Associate Members, rising star Joseph Marrella’s acting career got an early boost. The scholarship grant he received from the organization helped support his studies at Boston’s prestigious Emerson College. Graduating Magna cum Laude, he earned his degree in Theatre Education with Acting Emphasis.

In addition to his Film, TV and Stage credits, he has provided acting coaching for high school programs and theater companies, and has worked as a monologue coach for My College Audition.

Joseph has appeared in several TV commercial features, like this one for Staples:

To learn more about him, see his complete bio here:

The WDC Hall of Fame is proud to have played a part in Joseph Marrella’s success. May his star continue to rise.

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Gerald L. “Jerry” Kelsey…an Appreciation

Posted on April 19th, 2023 by Gail Langan

It’s said that context is necessary for understanding a person’s life, and when Jerry Kelsey burst onto the Drum Corps scene, he brought with him his very own context. In the “Chariots of the Gods” era of the 1970’s, one could be forgiven for pondering whether Jerry was actually of this world. The limits that Newtonian calculus, Einsteinian physics, and the Earth itself had previously imposed didn’t seem to apply to our activity after he arrived.

To begin with, he could play anything, be it soprano, baritone or mellophone, as if, like blues legend Robert Johnson, he had made some pact with the devil in the Batavia woods. “Prodigy” doesn’t really cut it. The kid was flat out scary.

Naturally, this led to drum-majoring, instructing, and arranging and it didn’t hurt that he circled within the orbit of Corky Fabrizio, also a potential intergalactic visitor whose influence was, well, astronomical.

By the time Jerry graduated from Mighty St. Joe’s College, Purple Lancers University, and Fredonia, and was turned loose on the Tour de Drum Corps, all the rest of us could do was buckle up and hang on.

His arrangements and the sounds he extracted from his brass lines refreshed the musical landscape like a frozen margarita in the Sahara. His fluency in all genres and styles was remarkable: Russian Christmas Music (Crossmen), Cape Verdean Blues (Rochester Crusaders), Biebl’s Ave Maria (SF Renegades), Empire’s “Maynard” show, charts for Suncoast, Madison, Kilties, Boston, Reading Bucs, dozens of band shows…His wellspring seemed inexhaustible. This was not a new sheriff in town, it was a whole new town.

Yet, for all his impact and influence, Jerry maintained a remarkably balanced demeanor, promoting the accomplishments of his colleagues while underplaying his own.

A true polymath, he became an acclaimed music teacher, mentor, clinician, adjudicator, published arranger, and the founder of Custom Arranging Services, providing charts skillfully tailored for specific clients. These would be no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all, mass marketed, off-the-shelf Kelsey music. Each work was unique, like the man himself. 

And then there was the brilliant visual artistry of his photography. He could play the camera, too.

And now he’s left us, after giving us all the spirit and energy he had, and the gift of a brand new context. Let’s make the most of it.

Details – Friends may call Saturday, May 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Robinson & Hackemer Funeral Home, 246 North Main Street, Warsaw. A celebration of life will be held immediately following visitation and until 6 PM at the Warsaw Moose Lodge, North Main Street, Warsaw. Burial will be in Warsaw Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to HomeCare & Hospice, 563 West Main Street, Arcade, NY 14009. Online condolences at

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Posted on April 5th, 2023 by Gail Langan

An all-star team of some of the most accomplished and influential individuals in the long history of the activity was selected by voters for the 2023 Class of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame. “It was such an honor to personally call these inductees and inform them of their selection to the Hall of Fame”, commented Neal Smith, the organization’s president.

The group includes the first woman ever to march with the US Marines D&B Corps, an arranger whose musical roots can be traced to a famous Romantic-Era composer, and a director who just celebrated his 100th birthday. Following is the full list, with some of their corps affiliations:

Carol O’Brien (USMC)

John Hannigan (Cadets)

Hans Kloppert (Jubal)

Fred Sanford (SCV)

Richard Yelinek (Hurricanes)

Lawrence Visconti (Sunrisers)

Barbara Flowers (Alpine Girls)

Robert W. Smith (Suncoast)

Tom Blair (Cavaliers)

T. J. Doucette (Blue Devils)

Tom Rarick (Bluecoats)

Neil Larrivee (Cadets)

Blaise Castaldo (Caballeros)

Donna Dennesen (Crusaders Sr.)

Mark Edsall (Squires)

Wilson “Willie” Black (Buccaneers)                                                                                                                 

Carol Abohatab (Bluecoats)

Chet Doboe (Sunrisers)

Frank “Sarge” Polizzi (Shoreliners)

Additional details about all the inductees and the up-coming December ceremony can be found by visiting

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Photo Slideshow from the 2022 Induction Banquet

Posted on January 21st, 2023 by Gail Langan

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Candidate Submission Deadline – January 15

Posted on December 30th, 2022 by Gail Langan

Important Reminder –

The deadline for 2023 Candidate Submissions is rapidly approaching. All submissions are due by Sunday, January 15th. Find the submission application forms here:

Do not pass up this opportunity to recognize the achievements of your peers.

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