Drum Corps International

Jay Murphy - DCI Hall of Fame

Jay Murphy

Jay Murphy

Inducted in 2021

Over the past 40 years, much of the on-field visual identity of the Blue Devils has been created at the hand of Jay Murphy.

With a quiet humbleness he has helped catapult one of Drum Corps International’s most successful groups to greatness, and pushed the boundaries of what people come to expect when watching drum corps productions unfold.

“There are many people who write drill, and create functional motion. But Jay creates purposeful impactful design,” DCI Hall of Fame member David Gibbs (’02) said. “The Blue Devils are a mixture of amazing designers and teachers … But over the last 40 years, Jay stands out as being instrumental in creating our ensemble’s visual uniqueness and identity. He imagines and creates the beautiful design that blankets the canvas which is uniquely Blue Devils.”

A Massachusetts native, Murphy spent his early career teaching the rifle line of the Boston Crusaders. Joining the Blue Devils color guard staff in 1981, he assumed the role of visual designer of the corps in 1986, a position he holds to this day.

Countless visual caption awards won by the Blue Devils over many years at the DCI World Championships can be attributed to Murphy’s fluidly-designed productions.

"Each of his programs, in collaboration with his staff colleagues, is unique—A new story, a new emotional setting, a new depth and structure to the program and personalities the performers represent," said DCI Hall of Fame member George Oliviero ('92).

“He combines his degree in English from Marquette and years of experience to create a design that has deep meaning and fits the music like an expensive glove,” Gibbs added. “Jay’s brilliance is seeing creative opportunities and then designing a magically-staged iconic production—A combination of traditional drum corps, Cirque du Soleil and amazing ballet.”

In his decades on the job, Murphy has been in a position to see great developments and changes within the drum corps activity. His ability to continually reinvent the status quo and drive those changes has been the inspiration and envy of performers, spectators and his colleagues alike.

“Jay is one of those iconic figures in our pageantry arts circles who from a visual standpoint changed our game, over and over again … He is truly in a class by himself,” DCI Hall of Fame member Jeff Saktig (’15) said.

For fellow visual designer and DCI Hall of Fame member Michael Gaines (‘11), the competitive nature of the drum corps activity has led to an even deeper respect and admiration of all that Murphy has been able to accomplish in his ongoing career.

“I have always felt that I became a better designer by competing with giants such as Jay,” Gaines said. “The competitiveness that I felt in my younger days quickly turned into admiration as I realized I was watching brilliance unfold on the field … I am a better designer because of Jay.”

Murphy’s talents have extended into the winter color guard arena, having been a part of gold-medal-winning productions with the likes of the St. Anthony’s Imperials, Blue Devils and San Jose Raiders. Murphy was inducted into the Winter Guard International Hall of Fame in 1995.