1992 is remembered as the year Drum Corps International celebrated its 20th anniversary, though many fans and members of the Cavaliers may first think of 1992 as the year the corps won its first of seven World Championship titles. It is also remembered for the loving tribute provided to DCI Hall of Fame member Gail Royer as he retired after 25 years of service to the corps he founded, Santa Clara Vanguard. Blue Devils' 4th-place production, "Big, Bad and Blue," heated up the frigid Finals night air, which dropped to 41 degrees at Madison, Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium. Between the hot screaming brass and a sultry color guard section that had coed members for the first time in the corps' history, few people were likely aware of the dropping mercury while the Devils were on the field. The show opened with "Blue Light, Red Light (Someone's There)" from Harry Connick Jr.'s 1991 multi-platinum big band album of the same name. Blue Devils brass players snuck onto the field with a soft, swinging introduction, then after a sonic burst of extreme volume that left all ears scorched, they headed toward prop dice placed near the front of the field, upon which the mid-voices stood for a few measures. After about 90 seconds, the corps went into the central segment of the show that was dedicated to Johnny Richards' "Cuban Fire Suite," from Stan Kenton's 1956 album, "Cuban Fire!" The album was groundbreaking for how it combined big band, Latin jazz rhythms, and Latin percussion. The suite opened with "El Congo Valiente" ("Valiant Congo"), originally the second movement of Richards' suite, as the color guard members quickly moved the dice off the field. The work featured an extended series of fast melodic runs from the soprano bugles, a trademark of the horn line. The next movement in the suite was "Fuego Cubano" ("Cuban Fire") the first movement in the original, which included a fiery opening percussion feature and a slow-but-intense middle segment. The final segment of the center production was "La Suerte de Los Tontos" (loosely translated as "Fortune of Fools"), originally the sixth movement of the suite that was previously performed by the Blue Devils in 1979 and 1980. The show's closer was "When a Man Loves a Woman," written by Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright and made famous by soul singer Percy Sledge in his 1966 album of the same name. A year before the corps' production, the song was revamped by Michael Bolton, earning him a Grammy Award. At the opening, members of the color guard stripped down to tight and skimpy form fitting red leotards and performed a seductive dance directed to the guard members of the opposite gender. The horn players and drummers removed their jackets and the horns took the uniform tops to the front sideline, where many of them unbuttoned their blouses as the heat rose on the field. The guard members stood atop the dice before restaging the props across the field. It was one of the loudest brass segments ever witnessed in DCI competition, and the only thing louder at the time was the audience screaming in approval as ears vibrated in overdrive.
1992 Blue Devils
For this week only, you can save on the Legacy Collection DVD that contains this complete Blue Devils performance, along with all finalists from the 1992 DCI World Championships.Buy the 1992 Legacy Collection DVD. (Available this week only for 20% off. Regular price: $35.95.)
1992 OverviewDiscount DVD offer ends Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.
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.