Drum Corps International Hall of Fame member Dick Brown passed away Wednesday, May 28, following a lengthy battle with kidney cancer. He was 88 years old.
Brown got his start in marching music well before the formation of Drum Corps International, having joined the Skokie (Illinois) Indians in 1952. Not only did he serve as the lead snare drummer for six years, he also composed all of the percussion arrangements and taught them to the corps' members.
"I went to the Indians right out of the service," Brown, a U.S. Navy veteran said in a 2005 interview with DCI.org. "It was something I got into, because I had been a musician in the service."
His contributions proved most valuable to the Indians as they experienced an impressive jump in competitive placement in just a year's time from 1953 to 1954. The corps even went on to win the American Legion National Championship three years in a row from 1955 to 1957.
Even after retiring from the Indians in the late 1950s, Brown could not stay away from drum corps. He went on to teach or arrange for an impressive list of more than a dozen corps including the Cavaliers, Troopers, Madison Scouts and Phantom Regiment. Brown additionally served as the first director of the Central States Judges Association, developing rules and procedures that would lay the foundation for modern drum corps judging.
Brown was inducted into the DCI Hall of Fame in 2005. In his nomination, Earl Joyce (DCI Hall of Fame 1988) wrote, "The level of excellence and positive influence that was transmitted [by Dick] could only have a profound effect on all who were lucky enough to be involved with him in some way. And as for his character, I am sure any member of the Hall of Fame would be proud to stand with him."
Brown is survived by his daughter Leslie and his son Richard. Memorial donations can be made in his honor to the American Cancer Society.
Read more about Dick Brown's drum corps achievements.