Royal Crusaders is one of those corps that might win you a bar bet when you ask someone if there was ever a DCI Finalist corps by that name. The corps made the DCI World Championship Finals just one year, in 1975 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. (Other corps that made the Finals just once include the Des Plaines Vanguard and Bleu Raiders in 1972, Black Knights and Commodores in 1973, Purple Lancers in 1974, Dutch Boy in 1990 and Seattle Cascades in 2002.) Often referred to as the Finleyville Royal Crusaders, the corps' home community was easily one of the most unique locales in all of corpsdom. Finleyville, Pa., 15 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh, is a small borough of just 0.2 square miles that had a population of 460 in the 2000 census. I suspect no DCI World Championship Finalist has come from a smaller community.
1975 Royal Crusaders
Royal Crusaders placed 16th in 1973 and 17th in 1974, and had a banner year in 1975, placing 9th at the World Championship Finals, topping Phantom Regiment, Garfield Cadets and Troopers. In Prelims, the corps had captured 7th place, also beating Kilties and the Cavaliers. The corps' 1975 show opened with Mussorgsky's "Coronation Scene" from "Boris Godunov," from his opera based on the Alexander Pushkin play about the Russian ruler from around 1600. Almost sneaking onto the field from the upper left corner of the field, (quite similar to 27th Lancers' more bombastic entry the same year), the opening drill formations were at times quite remarkably asymmetrical until about a minute in, when the corps got centered around the 50-yard line for the rest of the show. This was some five years before Santa Clara Vanguard shocked the activity with what arguably was the first largely asymmetrical drill.
Performance excerpt of the 1975 Royal Crusaders.
A brash rendition of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" followed a brief drum solo and went into a concert standstill of two other religious tunes, "Amazing Grace" and an extremely jazzy version of "Old Time Religion." The music of the rock band Chicago closed the show, including James Pankow's "Colour My World" and "Make Me Smile," ending with a short tag of "MacArthur Park." In 1976, the corps dropped to 15th and then after a 21st place finish in 1977, went inactive for the 1978 season. Returning in 1979, the corps finished in 17th place and then disbanded for good after a 24th place finish in 1980. This week only, you can save on 1975 World Championship Audio and Video Performance Downloads on the DCI Fan Network. Buy the 1975 Royal Crusaders Video Performance Download. (Available this week only for $3.99. Regular price: $4.99.) Buy the Audio Performance Download bundle of all 12 Finalists from 1975. (Available this week only for $15.99. Regular price: $19.99.) Offer ends Monday, Oct. 10 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
1975 Royal Crusaders
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than a quarter century and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Ind.