Self-proscribed “true drum corps nut” Shawn McDowell of Ohio sends in this memory of DCI Finals in 1981:

I marched in General Putnam’s Men (Ohio) in 79, then was a staff member for the final 2 years. Our only appearance at DCI championships was the summer of 1981, first year in Montreal. Sadly it was our last summer.

We saw Phantom a couple times over that summer. We all loved the show, but myself and the brass caption head both especially loved it. He
is/was a Latin teacher, and he recognized the Roman shields as being authentic reproductions. I still have my libretto from finals. (Editor’s note: the corps produced small librettos and handed them out to the audience at each show. Those are now collector’s items!)

Finals night at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Phantom Regiment’s performance was amazing! It was such a powerful and emotional show. The ovation at the end was, in my memory, the BIGGEST drum corps ovation ever!!! The crowd roared, clapped, and stomped their feet on the bleachers for several minutes.

I waited and cheered for a few minutes, but had to tear myself away to take a restroom break before the final few performances. When I
descended into the back of the stadium, the concessions workers all had terrified looks on their faces. One lady, in broken English, asked me what was going on and if everything was ok. I said yes, and that the audience is cheering for one of the corps. It turned out the ovation was so loud and overwhelming (and it truly was very deafening under the stadium) that the workers feared a riot had broken out in the stadium and they were all scared!

They were relieved to know everything was ok.

One other thing about the ovation: it never stopped. Usually there’s a big ovation, then it dies down. The announcer will say the name of the
corps again as the DM’s leave and there is a final ovation. But this one just kept going on and on the entire time Phantom left the stadium.

In my memory this was a ground breaking show. It seems it was the first show entirely based on one piece of music and it wasn’t just popular musical or an opera, but rather a ballet!

I thought you or some alumni from that era would appreciate this little anecdote from that finals night.

Shawn T. McDowell
A true drum corps nut