Passing of Member Norm Peth

Posted on July 20th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Norm Peth, one of the most admired and influential drum instructors in the four decades following World War II passed away Friday, July 10 at age 95.

A member of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame since his induction in 1997, he was also certified as a master drummer by the International Association of Traditional Drummers (IATD). He was the first recipient of the IATD’s John Sterling Pratt Prestige Award, bestowed earlier this year on January 13, 2020.

John Pratt, a prolific percussion composer and a former student Norm Peth, also passed away earlier this year.

Norm Peth’s performances ranged from theatre and club stages to the drum corps contest field. Many of his students became top musicians performing around the world from Las Vegas to Singapore. He played drums professionally with the Jerry Wald Orchestra and many other groups during the Big Band era, working for and with many of the great jazz drummers of the day. Over the years, he was involved with 114 different music groups ranging from street parade corps to big field competition drum and bugle corps.

A list of his students is a virtual “who’s who” of high achievers in drumming. In addition to teaching drum and bugle corps percussion sections, he had students that later played with and taught the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and West Point Hellcats drum lines. Other students became high school and college teachers and professional drummers.

Some of his students went on to become members or instructors of such well-known drum and bugle corps as the Seneca Chiefs, Rochester Grey Knights, Tri-County Incorporated, Geneva Appleknockers, Syracuse Brigadiers, Interstatesmen.

He made contributions in every area of drum and bugle corps activity: playing, instructing, organizing and adjudicating, mainly in western New York. He was a judge for the All American Drum and Bugle Corps and Band Association, more commonly known as “The All American,” who judged many American Legion events as well as New York/Canadian Association contests and the New York/Canadian Individuals

He became widely known in the late 1940s as the drum instructor for the Seneca Chiefs Senior Drum and Bugle Corps of Seneca Falls, New York. Under his instruction, the Seneca Chiefs drum quartet won the New York/Canadian ensemble championship for three straight years, from 1963 through 1965.

He retired from drum corps activity more than 30 years ago, moving from western New York to enjoy the sunny climate of Florida. During his retirement he continued to play with various nightclub groups and, occasionally, live theatre bands.

Posted in News

Passing of Associate Member Bob “Wags” Wagner

Posted on June 7th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Charter Hall of Fame charter associate member Bob Wagner passes at age 83

Wilbert Robert “Wags” Wagner, III of Manchester, Maryland, inducted in 2001 as a charter member in the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Associate Member category, passed away recently at age 83. His long career in drum and bugle corps activity began in 1943 and extended more than 60 years well into the alumni drum corps era and the turn of the century.

Along the way, his teachers with various competitive and alumni drum corps included some of the best-known arrangers and instructors in the activity, many of them now also members of the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.

He became a member, and eventually president, of the Yankee Rebels Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps in 1988, playing soprano and mellophone under the direction at various times of Ray Eyler, Ray Fallon, Truman Crawford, Jamie Bennett and Larry Kerchner. From 1991 to 2000, he played soprano horn with Archer-Epler Musketeers Alumni, with instructor Ray Fallon.

Beginning in 1994, he played mellophone with Reilly Raiders Alumni, taught by Bob Adair, Larry Kerchner and Bill Pusszi. From 1996 to 1999, he played mellophone for New York Skyliners Alumni, under Bucky Swan. He played mellophone with Hawthorne Caballeros Alumni beginning in 2003 and Music Express in 2004, under Larry Kerchner.

He first marched, at age seven, in 1943, continuing non-stop with several top competitive east coast corps until 1969.

From 1943 to 1949, he played drums under Joe Soistman and bugle under William S. Hart at P.S. School 83 in Baltimore. From 1945 to 1949, he also played bugle with instructor Webb Rice for Tall Cedars Junior Drum and Bugle Corps. He played bugle with St. Michael’s from 1949 to 1951. For the next four years, he was a bugler with Kenwood Cadets and Kenwood Cavaliers.

From 1955 to 1957, he played with Baltimore’s Hamilton Post 20, with Bill Rennie, Skip Groff and Truman Crawford as instructors. Bobby Adair was his instructor with Reilly Raiders from 1957 to 1960. He played with New York Skyliners in 1960 and 1961, when Hy Dreitzer was the instructor. He spent his final years of competition, from 1961 to 1969, marching with Baltimore’s Yankee Rebels, with instructors Skip Groff and Truman Crawford.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, he retired from Dow Chemical Company in 2000. He had served in the Maryland National Guard. He is survived by his wife Arleen, daughters Stephanie Brewster (Bill) and Cynthia Barbe and two grandchildren.

Posted in News


Posted on May 6th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Thank you to all who participated in voting for the Class of 2020 as well as the screening and selection committees.  Your vote was recorded and an outstanding Class of 2020 was selected.  Voting results have not been announced at this time and will remain confidential.  We are all painfully aware, as a result of the pandemic, the entire drum corps season has been canceled.  This of course includes the Annual World Drum Corps Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

The Executive Committee has determined the Class of 2020 will become the Class of 2021 (there will be no class of 2020).  In the spring of 2021 members of the Class of 2021 will be individually notified followed by a public announcement.  There will be no voting in 2021.  Nominations will continue to be accepted and processed in preparation for 2022 voting .  While there were many options to handle the current situation, the Executive Committee agreed the adopted procedure will afford the newly elected members a complete and undiminished experience.

Richard Templin
President WDCHOF

Posted in News

Passing of member Jack Pratt

Posted on April 12th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Most prolific drum corps percussion writer Jack Pratt passed away April 6

John S. “Jack” Pratt, one of the most prolific percussion writers in the drum and bugle corps community, passed away early Monday, April 6 2020 from advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He had also undergone triple-bypass heart surgery in December 2000.

Because of the effects of the current corona virus pandemic, family members are not certain when a memorial mass or funeral can be held. He was born on January 13, 1931 in Seneca Falls, New York.

He was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame in 1990. He was also a member of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Hall of Fame and an honorary member of Canadian Associates Drumming Rudimental Excellence (CADRE).

While still in high school in the late 1940s, he marched beside Hall of Fame drum instructor Norm Peth in the Geneva Appleknockers’ big drum line including four snares, four tenors, two bass drums and two cymbals. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the Army.

He began serving as rudimental drum instructor of field music with the U.S. Military Academy band at West Point in 1959, retiring in 1969 after a 20-year military career. He was one of the first to urge the use of large drum lines, paving the way to modern percussion sections of 30 or more members that began to appear on the contest field by the late 1960s. As an exponent of large drum lines, he urged that the level of difficulty not be reduced and that various performance factors not be sacrificed.

In the late 1950s, he submitted a large instruction book to various publishers. Belwin Inc., a New York publishing firm, asked him to divide it into three separate books, which became 14 Modern Contest Solos, Ancient Rudimental Snare and Bass Drum Solos, and 128 Rudimental Street Beats. About a year later, Belwin published another book: 26 Standard American Drum Rudiments and their variations. Over the following 50-plus years he wrote hundreds of drum solos and many other books.

He taught the Interstatesmen in the 1960s, when he introduced the rudimental bass drum to the drum corps community, as part of his unique concept of percussion voicing. “He expanded the horizon of rudimental drumming by extending rudiments over the barline and using deceptive cadences”, said Robin Engelman, a fellow PAS Hall of Fame member. “The swing and musicality of his solos changed the course of rudimental writing and performance.”

He was associated with a number of other corps, including Geneva Appleknockers, Troop 12 Indians, Kingsmen, Lakers, Criterions, Hawthorne Caballeros, King’s Regiment, Doremus Post, Crimson Kings Tri-County Cavaliers, Rochester Grey Knights, Ambassadors. During his ten years with the Caballeros, the corps won three American Legion Championships, in 1974, 1975 and 1980, and Drum Corps Associates (DCA) Championships in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1976.

He began to judge drum and bugle corps contests in the late 1950s, serving as an adjudicator for the New York chapter of the All American Drum and Bugle Corps and Band Association and also with the New Jersey chapter of the Metropolitan All-American Association.

During his military career, he went to college at night and received an Associate in Arts degree from Orange County Community College in Middletown, New York. He then transferred his credits to Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. He began a second career as an English teacher at Hackensack High School in New Jersey, which lasted for 25 years until he retired in 1995.

In addition to writing hundreds of drum solos, he was a published poet, the author of an acclaimed thesis on the poetry of John Keats and enthusiastic promoter of the art of rudimental drumming,

Posted in News

Funeral service for Member Bill Hayes

Posted on February 16th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Funeral services for World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHoF) member Bill Hayes were held on Tuesday, February 18 at 1 pm at Tilghman Funeral Home, 52 Main Street, New Egypt, New Jersey, with burial following in Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown.

Memorial donations can be made to the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, attention Richard Warga, 1 Walnut Drive, Pine Brook, New Jersey 07058.

Posted in News

Passing of Member Bill Hayes

Posted on February 16th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Born in Bayonne, New Jersey in 1925, Bill Hayes passed away at age 94 at Brookdale of Hamilton senior living center peacefully on February 10, 2020 with his family by his side. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, in recognition of his outstanding achievements with several of the best-known corps of the day. He was also a member of the New Jersey Drum Corps Hall of Fame, inducted in 1998.

After distinguished service during World War II, he returned to school, graduating from the School of American Music in New York in 1947. His devotion to music as a trumpet player and instructor led him to work with many top-ranked drum and bugle corps, including Hawthorne Caballeros, New York Skyliners, St. Catharine’s of Sienna Queensmen and Florida Vanguard of Miami. He served as the music and drill instructor of the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights of Newark, helping them win four national championships,

He was first affiliated with the Sal MacKenzie Post corps. He also judged marching and manoeuvring, horns and music for several judging associations. While playing for the Caballeros, he was widely admired and recognized for his soprano solo in “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.”

While a member of the Army Air Corps serving in World War II as a ball turret gunner with the 459th bomb group stationed in Cerignola, Italy, he was a recipient of four Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, and an Air Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and American Legion of Barnegat Post 232.

He moved to Florida in 1960, serving with the Hollywood Fire Department for 10 years while also working as a lifeguard and for the local Emergency Medical Service. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Master’s Degree in Education from New York University, he taught math and social studies at Village Middle School in Closter New Jersey for 19 years.

He was predeceased by Mary, his wife of 60 years, and by son Michael P. Hayes. He is survived by a daughter, Maureen Kelly and Don of Hamilton; two grandsons, Ryan A. Kelly and Matthew P. Kelly, both of Hamilton and several nieces and nephews.

Regular World Drum Corps Hall of Fame members are honored 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 honored for Distinguished Professional Achievement and individuals receiving the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Posted in News

2019 President’s End of Year Message

Posted on January 7th, 2020 by Dan Rippon

Link to PDF File for the President’s Message

Posted in News

Passing of Member Michael Gasparre

Posted on October 14th, 2019 by Dan Rippon

Memorial service to be held for Hall of Fame associate member Michael Gasparre whose drum corps activities spanned more than 70 years since beginning in 1937

Visitation and a military ceremony for World Drum Corps Hall of Fame associate member Michael Gasparre, of Tarrytown, New York, will be held on October 17 and 18. He passed away in Florida on September 24.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 pm Thursday October 17 at Coffey Funeral Home, 91 North Broadway in Tarrytown. A priest will participate in the military burial ceremony taking place from 10:30 to 11:30 am at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Mausoleum, 540 North Broadway, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

In addition to many years of drum and bugle corps activity, most notably with New York Skyliners, he participated with many professional music groups, performing across the country. He was among the large class of Hall of Fame associate members inducted in 2002.

Michael Gasparre was still playing mellophone with Florida Brass more than 70 years after he began playing a G bugle in 1937 with St. Anthony’s drum and bugle corps in Yonkers. He then played for 10 years with the Ivy A corps in Yonkers before serving in the United States Army for three years.

In the 1940s, he took trumpet lessons with Professor Frank Rice, and played professionally with a number of dance bands. He also marched with Frank A. Rea American Legion Post drum and bugle corps before and after serving in the army. During his years of service, he played trumpet and bass fiddle with U.S. Army Field Bands and orchestras in England and Germany.

From 1955 to 1967, he played French horn with the New York Skyliners and taught music to several other corps in the New York area. He was awarded a Skyliner lifetime membership award in 1985. He then served the corps as field equipment manager, scout, driver, advisor and member of various committees. He served on the committee that organized the Skyliners alumni association in 1986.

Beginning in 1986, he was a music judge for the Tri-State Musical Parade Judges Association, including several years as chief music judge. He was a member of the Skyliners alumni chorus since its inception. He was also a bass fiddle player, trumpeter and vocalist with various professional recording and music groups, performing across the country.

Posted in News

Ralph Hardimon induction to Percussive Arts Society

Posted on October 14th, 2019 by Dan Rippon

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame’s Ralph Hardimon adds induction to Percussive Arts Society to his lengthy list of awards

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame member Ralph Hardimon, inducted in 2017, will add to his extensive list of honors when he is inducted into the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Hall of Fame on November 14, 2019. He is already a member of the Drum Corps International (DCI) Hall of Fame, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sabian, was inducted into the Santa Clara Vanguard Hall of Fame in 2014 and has been nominated for Grammy awards in jazz and rhythm and blues categories.

The Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame was established in 1972 to recognize contributions of the most highly regarded leaders in percussion performance, education, research, scholarship, administration, composition and the industry.

Ralph Hardimon is widely considered the innovator in marching percussion ensemble composition and arranging that pushed drum and bugle corps activity into a higher level of integration and musicality by highlighting the voice of the entire percussion ensemble. His scores made use of the full spectrum of percussion elements, including the battery and front ensemble.

While he was director of percussion for Santa Clara Vanguard from 1976 to 1990, his ensembles won five high percussion awards in driving the Vanguard to four DCI world championship titles. He was a key member of the Anaheim Kingsmen drum line during the first years of DCI in the early 1970s, helping set a new standard in rudimental performance and execution that attracted a new level of interest by youth around the world.

He is a world traveller himself, conducting clinics in the Japanese cities of Nagoya, Tokyo, Kagoshima, Osaka, Okayama and Yokohama. He has conducted drum clinic tours for both Pearl and Premier Drums.

His signature drumsticks are considered the industry standard, used by ensembles around the world.

He has served as percussion coordinator, arranger or consultant for other DCI corps, including Blue Knights, Bluecoats, Capitol Regiment, The Academy, Troopers, Kingsmen, Blue Devils, Crossmen and Freelancers.

His extensive judging history includes service with Winter Guard International (WGI) percussion, Southern California Percussion Alliance, Bands of America and Percussive Arts Society.

His percussion activities began in 1965 as a snare drummer with the Los Angeles Police Band.

Posted in News

Watch video highlights of 2019 inductees on YouTube

Posted on September 8th, 2019 by Dan Rippon

Video highlights featuring 2019 inductees in the Distinguished Professional Achievement, International, Regular and Associate Member categories that were shown during the induction banquet in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on August 30 have been uploaded by Gail Langan to YouTube.

The links below are in alphabetical order:

Shirley Stratton Dorritie – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

James Elvord – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

John Meehan – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

Gene Monterastelli – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

Jay Morlott – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

George Oliviero – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

Shinichi Onodera – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

George Takei – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

Dave Vose – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

Sadao Yokota – World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Inductee

World Drum Corps Hall of Fame 2019 Associate Inductees

Posted in News