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Brian Albrect

The 1979 Blue Stars, while most of the Drum Corps World will remember them as the last Blue Star Corps to compete in the finals in DCI, those of us in the corps will remember the 1979 Blue Stars for many reasons. It is true that the most important achievements of the corps were those from the fields of competition. Our 10th place finish at DCI Finals in Birmingham, disappointing as it seemed at the time, especially in light of a 4th place at DCI East in Allentown, Penn. a week earlier, can be viewed with pride by all involved. The disappointment that was felt at the time was mostly due to the fact that as Blue Stars we had all grown accustomed to battling it out with the big boys at the top, and while a 10th place finish would be the fulfillment of a dream for hundreds of other corps, for the Blue Stars it was not good enough. Looking back at this time the year 1979 was reasonably successful. We won a few contests and entertained a large number of people, while as always working damned hard!

Enough of the box scores. What really happened in '79? 1979 was a year that included going for the record, a bus going through the parking lot in Little Rock, losing the drumline in lowa on the way to DCI Midwest, and above all "The Sounds of The Holocaust". Who can forget waiting for the buses that the corps had just purchased with expectations before leaving for a weekend of competition, and then finding out that the third one was adorned with the name "Sounds of The Pentacost" and came from a place called Puyallup, Washington. And even better standard feature of this bus was its ability to break down every ten miles or ten minutes which ever came first. For this reason, the name "Pentecost" quickly became "Holocaust" to the members of the corps. What was most amazing about the "Holocaust", was that it was the only one of the three buses that survived the second tour. The other two had to be replaced by cool, quiet and comfortable coaches from Voight's Bus Service of St. Cloud, Minn., during the first days of the tour. You can imagine our disappointment!

While in La Crosse, the favorite after practice watering hole had to be the Rustic Inn. Ray George, the proprieter was a good friend and supporter of the corps, and even more importantly, served the cheapest beer in town. Every Tuesday night was "4 for a buck night". Four bottles of Blatz Creme Ale could be had for just one dollar. I don't recall who it was that found out but someone had heard that the previous winter one of the UWL dorms had established the Rustic record for downing 1012 seven ounce bottles of Bud in one evening. Always ready to accept a challenge in the true Blue Star tradition, we all knew that something had to be done, and of course we set out to do it. Just before 2 a.m. one Wednesday morning in June of 1979, after 1012 bottles of Creme Ale had been consumed, some to be later expelled, Jody Chancey and Roxy the bartender shared the one that put all of our efforts over the top. Needless to say the following mornings horn rehearsal was quite colorful. To my knowledge the record still stands to this day.

For some reason, in sorting through my memories of '79, 1 always find myself back at the topic of buses. Not all of the incidents that come to mind were the fault of those monuments to modern engineering. One case in point occurred in Little Rock, Arkansas, on a very hot, early summer afternoon. The corps had just pulled up to the high school where we were to stay. While J.B. and Deb (drum major and color guard sergeant, respectively) were getting the lowdown on the accomodations, the weight of the girl's bus caused its rear wheels to sink through the pavement of the parking lot. I will admit that it was an extremely hot afternoon, and that the asphalt in that lot may have been laid out a bit too thin over too soft a base, but it did cause a few of the girls to think twice in the dinner line that evening. A bit later in the same tour, (from Little Rock we went to Dallas, Oklahoma City, and then to Denver) while traveling from DCI West in Denver to DCI Midwest in Whitewater, we experienced o bus breakdown in Des Moines. By this time we had become well drilled in the proper ettiquette in dealing with lost time due to transportation failure, in other words, we quickly put together a back breaking rehearsal at a nearby high school for the balance of the day. We had to make it to Whitewater for prelims the next day early in the afternoon. In route, the bus containing the drumline and rifles experienced a breakdown near the Quad Cities. The rest of us continued on while they remained behind for what was supposed to be quick repairs. Well, either you know already or can imagine the results. We had a corps nearly set to go on for DCI Midwest with no drum section or rifle squad. In a manner that would have made a Hollywood producer proud, just like the cavalry riding over the hill in a western in time to save the pioneers, the missing comrades rolled in just a few minutes before we were to take the field.

My most memorable event of 1979 was probably the voluntary return of the military haircut among a number of members. Now you say that you can't recall anything about military haircuts? Perhaps the term "Buzzheads" will refresh your memory. One evening in June a number of us, I believe it was 14, got together and began cutting hair, and cutting, and cutting, until an even stubble of about one-half inch remained on our heads. The first response to the sight of us was uncontrollable laughter, but while in uniform at contest it gave us a rather fearsome look that set many a Madison Scout rookie to shaking in his spats. The advantages of the haircut were many. The maintenance was easy and long lasting, no hair "accessories were needed, (combs and hair dryers were useless), and above all, it was cool and comfortable.

As you can see, 1979 was a very memborable year both in competition on the field and in day to day life. I will never forget the good times and good people that to me were 1979, and how we managed to survive with our sanity is still a mystery to me. I would's have missed it for the world!


1979 DCI Finals-Birmingham

1. Blue Devils
2. Phantom Regiment
3. Santa Clara Vanguard
4. Spirit of Atlanta
5. 27th Lancers
6. Bridgemen
7. Guardsmen
8. Madison Scouts
9. North Star
10. Blue Stars
11. Cavaliers
12. Troopers

1979 Music

"St. Louis Blues"
"Birdland"
"La Fiesta"
"Strike Up the Band"
"Children of Sanchez"


Original The Years print version was compiled by Jim Schultz and printed by Barb Noyes-Faas. Online version by Luke Delwiche and Nick Young. All pages are ©2002-2008 Blue Stars Drum and Bugle corps. Please, no unauthorized reproduction or distribution. Please contact the webmaster <webmaster@bluestars.org> with any errors, corrections, or omissions.