The 1960's...A Decade of Champions!
The Hurricanes of the early 1960’s were bolstered by some very solid members….. with the addition of names like Bob Glovna, Dennis Pavone, Jim Pepe, Charlie Bell, Matty Moales, Tom Bonacum, George Rutkauskus, Mike Kasper and Frank DePatra to name a few….Genero had the horses now, and he was getting the most out of them. The drum line had matured under the tutelage of both Sturtze and Parks, and with additions like Jim Dugan Sr., Tony DeFrancesco, Fran Germinaro, and Sal Genovese, they’d become a solid unit. Ed Condon & Bob Woods, members since the late 1940’s, who had wisely learned their craft from that old sage Ratford, teamed up, wrote the drill, and taught M & M….. And what a tandem they were. Throughout their tenure, marching would be the Hurricanes strength! With Pete Burns now at the helm as director beginning in 1963, as well as Don Friesing now in charge of the drum line, the pieces were in place. The Corps was about to embark on what is referred to in Hurricane lore as “the Glory Years.”
In 1960 and 1961 the Hurricanes moved up the ladder, placing 4th and 2nd respectively, in the Northeastern Circuit. The year of 1963 once again saw the Hurricanes in new uniforms……..black pants replete with white stripe edged in green piping, a white satin blouse, adorned by lime green sequin cummerbund and sequin lightning bolt across the chest, topped with the same black military style hat they had been sporting. These uniforms created a striking presence and are still regarded by many as their favorite look the Corps ever had…..in a word, they were electrifying! 1962 & 63' saw the Hurricanes win a couple shows, and go on to win the Northeastern Circuit Championships both years. The Hurricanes also traveled to Miami Fla. in September of 1963 and placed 5th in the American Legion National Championships. Most notably, in 1961, Genero arranged a “filler” song that would, to his delight, become the song most recognized as the Hurricanes signature song…”The Magnificent Seven.” Mag 7, as it is called, became part of the Hurricanes culture, it’s been played many years as part of the show, always as a parade song, and has become a staple as the retreat signature of the Corps. Originally intended as a “filler song”… as it turned out, Mag 7 has served the Corps well!
For some time prior to the 1963 season a number of senior corps were growing increasingly dissatisfied with judging, prize money, and generally, the way senior drum corps was being “sold.” New Hurricane director Pete Burns, in concert with Henry Mayer of the Skyliners, George Bull of the Yankee Rebels and Randy Miller of the Buccaneers brought together a group of corps, also including the Pittsburgh Rockets, Archer-Epler Muskateers as well as the Interstatesmen to form a new circuit, committed to fair competition and fair compensation. They named this new circuit “Drum Corps Associates”… or DCA, as we know it today!
In 1964, the Hurricanes fielded a very strong corps…Hello Dolly!... a contender from the get go! They went toe to toe with the Skyliners & the Yankee Rebels all season long. Although the new circuit was in full swing, the DCA did not hold a championship contest in 1964. There was, however, the World Open Championship. This show featured over 35 junior corps and 13 of the finest senior corps. The Hurricanes placed 2nd to the Skyliners in the prelims, but wow’d the crowd and judges with a dynamic performance in the finals that put them on top, thus becoming the World Open Champions of 1964! In 10 short years, the Hurricanes had grown from a group of green, aspiring competitors to World Open Champions………Riding high at the top of the heap!!!!!!!!!!
By the second half of the decade the Hurricanes had added more horses to the established ”long green line,” guys like Curt Golder, Arnie Juliano, John Fisher, “Pittsburgh” Dave Younkin and “Slick” Nick Pisani joined the horn line. The color guard, with legendary figurehead Harvey Olderman and veterans Jimmy Edgeworth, Billy Wallace, Chuck Huneke, Tom Gleason and Iggy Dominguez, were joined by stalwarts Rich Tardie and Bruce Gordon. Ray Luedee took charge of a drum line that was bolstered by the likes of John Bodnar, “Whispers” LaBonte, Bob Finley, Ray “Rosey” Flowers and Tom Gabianelli. Ray wrote, taught and drummed in his line. Make no mistake… excellence was the only acceptable outcome! He was a task master like Genero, and of the same ilk as Genero. Ray Luedee’s drummers would not accept being “less than the best.” These guys blended well, and put the finishing touches on a corps that would run out the decade as the most successful corps of the 1960’s.
The years of 1965 and 1966 were very competitive years for the Hurricanes….15 wins over those 2 seasons, against all comers, Yet disappointing 2nd place finishes at the 1965 and 1966 DCA’s, and a 2nd place finish at the 1966 American Legion Nationals in Washington D.C. somewhat dulled the luster of those winning years. It all turned around in 1967 when the Hurricanes were once again the best of the best!
The fact that 1967 was such a magical year was a shocker because it sure didn’t start out with much enthusiasm or promise. Practice attendance was spotty all winter and when the Corps began to learn drill, attendance seemed to worsen…to the point where some rehearsals were called off due to an inability to get anything accomplished with so many holes in the line! This all changed on a night in March at a scheduled drill rehearsal in the New Haven Armory. Faced with yet another dismal turnout, Pete Burns, Joe Genero, Ed Condon, Bob Woods and Ray Luedee read the guys the riot act. What they said is not fit for print, nor was it intended for public consumption but they sure made their point! The phones rang for a solid week and oh boy…did the Corps ever respond! The vets came out in force, as committed as they’d always been, and learned the drill. Subsequently, this group of guys nailed the show and began the season by winning six consecutive contests before narrowly placing 2nd to the Buccaneers at the Waverly show. The Bucs squeaked out a slim victory again in Syracuse, but these were the only two defeats of this magnificent season! When it was over, the Hurricanes had won 9 shows and placed 2nd but twice, with victories in
prestigious shows such as; Mission Drums, the Barnum Festival and the Dream contest as well as capturing the American Legion National Championship and the DCA World Championship. With such an ominous start, who could have predicted such an outcome?...1967…what a great year it was!
Pete Burns’ Hurricane career had come to an end on a high note and he turned the directorial reigns over to Chuck Tomlinson. In 1968 the Hurcs won 4 shows, but against a very competitive field placed 6th at the DCA Championship contest. This was unfortunately, the final year for the fabled marching gurus’… Ed Condon & Bobby Woods closed out their 20+ years with the Corps. The successes the Hurricanes enjoyed over the past 9 years were largely due to their prowess and skill in bringing forth the very best!
The final year of the decade turned out to be a wonderful experience for everyone associated with the Hurricanes. Not to say this season was great from beginning to end, but marching off the field in Rochester on August 31st as the newly crowned DCA World Champs goes a long way towards erasing the memory of the hard work, sweat and some disappointment it took to get there.
In the wake of an uncharacteristic finish in 1968, the Corps went into the winter with new resolve to once again stake claim to the top spot. Joe Genero and Ray Luedee again led the brass and drum lines, respectively, and Director Chuck Tomlinson brought in Bobby Daniels to write and teach the drill. Daniels, the once flashy drum major of the Hurricanes, had the daunting task of replacing the great M&M duo of Ed Condon and Bobby Woods. He’d gained notoriety in recent years, teaching in the junior ranks and proved to be a worthy choice.
Chuck Tomlinson came up with a different approach to get the Corps ready for the first appearance at their show, Fresh Air Fanfare on June 7th….Camp! A full weekend at a remote location, without distraction, devoted to transforming a winter of learning into a cohesive competitive corps. As it turned out this camp would be the first of what was to become a spring ritual for many years to come. The Corps showed up at Camp Hazen in Chester Conn. on a Friday night in May and practiced until Sunday night. The recipe was drill all day and music till’ midnight. For sure, everyone can remember marking time in a puddle of their own sweat well into the night! Genero, Luedee and Daniels came to this camp loaded for bear…they were focused and relentless. They imparted and reinforced upon the Corps their tenacious attitude and brought the Corps away from the weekend conditioned, focused and possessing a work ethic that would pay off as the season progressed.
The 1969 Hurcs started the season a little slow, very good, but still ironing out a few kinks. This corps was bolstered by the confidence Genero, Luedee and Daniels had in the total package, they knew what they had built and never wavered in their knowledge that they had the horses to make it special. The first contest was down the river in Stratford and the Corps came in 3rd. The next show was Syracuse with a 4th. place, followed by a trip to Boston for Mission Drums and a 3rd place finish. And in the fourth show, on the Fourth of July at the Barnum Festival……another 4th place. At this point, the Hurcs had been bested by the Skyliners, Buccaneers, Caballeros and the Sunrisers. The staff still promised a turn around, hey, the competition was excellent, but the spreads weren’t insurmountable! The pivotal show, no doubt, came in Altoona, Pa. on July 12th by finally posting a victory, by 1.3 over the Yankee Rebels, albeit, they were the only real contender there, but the Hurricanes had none the less tasted victory. A week off from competition provided valuable practice time, and they took advantage of it, coming away with the feeling they’d hit their stride.
July 26th brought on a contest in Carlisle Pa. where the victory at the Altoona show was regarded with indifference by the other corps. The Hurcs heard rumblings to the effect of…”big deal, they only beat the Yankee Rebels.”…. as if that was easy to do! However, that sentiment was put to rest that night, you see, they won the show, beating the Yankee Rebels again, also the Buccaneers and the Skyliners as well! Rainouts in Baltimore on August 2nd and Lewisberg on August 9th didn’t short circuit or slow the momentum one bit as the Corps eagerly looked towards the next contest… the Dream. Anyone who ever attended this storied show at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, knows of what seemed to be, a magical atmosphere permeating the air. The Hurricanes electrified the crowd with a monstrous performance, out distancing the Yankee Rebels, Skyliners, Sunrisers and Caballeros, and in doing so, captured the coveted “Dream” title for the third consecutive year, clearly establishing themselves as the corps to beat. Going to the championships as a favorite gave the Corps confidence…a confidence that was, however, tempered by the knowledge that anything could happen. It certainly wouldn’t be a cake walk. Joe Genero, Ray Luedee and Bob Daniels prepared well for that weekend. They worked through rehearsals with a sense of urgency, while still maintaining a focused control….they were such master motivators! In the preliminary contest the Hurricanes bested the field, but only narrowly, outscoring the 2nd place Skyliners by only .4 tenths. The performance in the Finals was a spirited job and held off some fierce competitors. At retreat on that Labor Day weekend, the final score announced was the Hurricanes… once again, on top of the World! Being crowned the 1969 DCA World Champions had to be an amazing feeling!
The ’69 Corps had overcome a rough start and turned it into a memorable and exciting championship season. Many years later, reflecting on his 20 year reign, Joe Genero would state, without hesitation, that the performance at the Dream in 1969 was, in his opinion, “the greatest performance in Hurricane history.” Every member of the “Long Green Line” came away from that season with special memories of this year…1969!
The 1969 season, as magical and rewarding as it turned out, was in effect, an exclamation point on an entire decade. The Hurricanes, led by drum major Joe Genero, closed out the decade of the 1960’s having gone into competition against fifty four opponents…of those, only sixteen corps managed to beat the “Men from Connecticut.” They took the field in competition 108 times and placed 1st fifty three times and 2nd twenty four times! That’s amazing production…in fact; the Hurricanes are the only corps with a winning record against every corps that took the field of competition against them over that ten year period, culminating with the last of many titles amassed during the decade….their 2nd DCA World Championship! “And now we are the Nations best, with lightning bolts across our chests.”
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