Established in 1985, the Drum Corps International Hall of Fame honors the outstanding achievements of marching music's passionate and committed administrators, creators, instructors, judges, and others who have made significant contributions through years of hard work, innovation, and direction.
In 2019, John Meehan, Bob Morrison and Douglas Thrower will be recognized during an induction ceremony taking place the week of the 2019 DCI World Championships in Indianapolis this August.
Brass instructor and arranger
John Meehan has been a part of the Blue Devils brass staff since 1994, helping to lead the corps to an impressive number of Jim Ott Best Brass Performance awards and DCI World Championship titles.
With experience at all levels of the Blue Devils organization, Meehan performed as a member of the Blue Devils C Open Class corps in 1980, before spending three years with Blue Devils B, then marching another four years in the organization’s World Class corps. Most recently he has served as the brass caption head of the Blue Devils while also arranging music for and teaching members of the Blue Devils B and Blue Devils C.
“John is a 24-hours and seven-days-a-week teacher and arranger,” DCI Hall of Fame member David Gibbs said. “He has a 100 percent conviction to his craft. His energy is unending. His communication is motivating, positive, nurturing and direct. His ability to guide his staff and come up with a consolidated highly effective teaching plan is remarkable. His technique programs are some of the best in the world.”
An avid composer and arranger, Meehan annually works with a number of marching bands, and he has also worked with other drum corps including the Troopers, Pacific Crest, and Japan’s Yamato Drum and Bugle Corps. He has also been involved in designing the brass instruments for System Blue, the musical tools exclusively used by Blue Devils and many other marching music organizations.
“John is a prime example of everything that we hold dear in this activity; passion for his students, love of his friends, a valued mentor and a performer and educator who has excelled at the absolute highest level in his field,” said Dr. Cameron Crotts who serves as a professor of the practice of jazz studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “You will find no better example of how to do drum corps ‘the right way’ than John Meehan.”
Front ensemble percussion arranger, music education advocate
Bob Morrison has been referred to by many as “the father of the front ensemble” and has long been a tireless advocate for music education in schools.
A former member of the Crossmen (1979-1982), he worked with DCI Hall of Fame member Thom Hannum on the Garfield Cadets percussion staff (1983-1986).
“With his guidance, Garfield became the first drum corps to incorporate a complete concert percussion ensemble into the activity and the era of the ‘front ensemble’ or ‘pit’, was born,” said Hannum. “This was history in the making and changed drum corps forever. Every marching ensemble around the world has embraced the approach Bob pioneered.”
After his time with The Cadets, Morrison worked with Santa Clara Vanguard between 1987 and 1992.
“Bob really invented the modern pit and brought new textures and timbres that had never before been heard in drum corps,” DCI Hall of Fame member Michael Cesario said. “His work exhibited such sensitivity and musicality that he changed forever the face of DCI.”
Morrison’s passion for music advocacy came to the fore when he accepted a leadership position with the National Association of Music Merchants in 1993 as Global Director of Marketing Development, a position he stayed in until 2008. He oversaw the promotion and implementation of the National Standards for Arts Education, led the battle to have the arts included in federal law as a core subject, and led the creation of the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation.
In 1998, he was hired as the first CEO of the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, raising more than $25 million to restore music in 1,200 schools. In 2006, he engineered the merger of the Music for All advocacy organization with Bands of America. His research into music education programs in California led to a $1 billion investment in restoring and expanding music and arts education programs for more than six million students. His prior work toward changing federal law resulted in music being listed in the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act federal education law as a necessary part of a well-rounded K-12 public education.
In 2002, Morrison was inducted into the Cadets Hall of Fame for his contributions as an arranger and instructor and was inducted into the Crossmen Hall of Fame in 2013. He has received a Prime Time Emmy Award and the distinguished Peabody Award for his work with Save the Music, and has also been awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the State University of New York for his lifetime commitment to music education.
Brass instructor and arranger
Brought up in the Canadian drum corps scene, Douglas Thrower started his drum corps career at the age of 11 with his hometown corps, the Krescendos from Peterborough, Ontario, before joining the Seneca Optimists.
Turning his focus to education, Thrower enjoyed a long and successful career as a brass instructor and arranger for a number of Canadian drum corps, including the 1986 DCI Class A Champion Canadian Knights, Kiwanis Kavaliers, Cardinals, and the 1990 DCI finalist Dutch Boy.
It was in 1992 that Thrower came to the Bluecoats as a brass instructor before being promoted to brass caption head the following year. In this position he worked to create with others a distinctive Bluecoats sound, aided in 1997 when he added brass arranging duties to his resume.
“Doug was very quickly effective in not only fielding a successful brass section with an instantly identifiable sound, but also applying his warm, approachable personality and famous sense of humor to creating an educational experience and brass program that positively impacted the lives of thousands of students,” former Bluecoats executive director David Glasgow said.
Thrower stepped away from day-to-day instruction of the Bluecoats brass section in the early 2000s to focus more on his arranging. Over nearly three decades with the corps his presence has been critical to its success.
“He has consistently delivered some of our activity’s most memorable musical moments,” DCI Hall of Fame member Scott Koter said. “Doug will always be known for making somewhat abstract pieces accessible to the masses. His creativity was paramount in leading the Bluecoats to their first DCI World Championship in 2016, using a musical program that shifted the design paradigm for every drum corps show since.”
“Doug’s writings have had a great deal to do with the corps’ rise and competitive success,” DCI Hall of Fame member Donnie VanDoren said. “His arrangements and orchestrations are creative, innovative, entertaining, and current … and with the influence of his jazz background and through the use of complex harmonies and rhythms, Doug has given the Bluecoats an identity all their own.”
Thrower was inducted into the Bluecoats Hall of Fame in 2009.