Scott Johnson and Mel Stratton Elected into the DCI Hall of Fame 2012
The Blue Devils are very excited and extremely proud to announce that Mr. Scott Johnson and Mr. Mel Stratton have been elected into the DCI Hall of Fame for 2012. Scott and Mel will join 14 other Blue Devils designers, instructors and directors in the DCI Hall of Fame.
While percussion instructor and arranger Scott Johnson could certainly hang his hat on the incredible number of competitive accolades he’s helped achieve on the performance field—an incredible 14 World Championship titles with the Blue Devils and a dozen high percussion caption awards—he is perhaps better known among students and colleagues for his masterful ability and willingness to teach and share his “tricks of the trade” with audiences around the world.
“If there is one area in which Scott has immeasurably contributed to the marching arts, it is in the largeness of his generosity in giving to his students his time, his patience, and his unwavering passion and dedication to the drum corps activity,” said Neal Flum, a former student of Johnson’s and currently the associate director of athletic bands at the University of Alabama. “As great is the number of titles, awards and honors that Scott has earned through his tireless work and dedication, but far greater is the number of lives he has positively affected.“
Learning to drum at the age of four, Johnson joined the snare drum line of the Blue Devils as an 18-year-old in 1976. He performed with the corps until 1979 and instructed the group through 1989. After several years away teaching and arranging for Santa Clara Vanguard in the early 1990s, Johnson rejoined the Blue Devils staff as percussion director and arranger in 1994, a position he still holds today.
It is Johnson’s caring personality and casual demeanor that many say is what makes him such a valued, respected and effective educator to all who he comes in contact with.
“Not only is Scott an example of the best player, musician and arranger, he has the personality that few develop to make students truly feel valued and respected,” said Ron Hardin, who worked with Johnson on the staff of the Santa Clara Vanguard. “Scott’s motto has always been, ‘If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.’ The genuine enthusiasm he brings to each and every rehearsal and meeting has been unmatched in anyone I’ve worked with.”
“I have seen Scott spend countless hours ‘in the lot’ encouraging all performers and their instructors,” said Jim Dwyer, a visual percussion judge for Winter Guard International. “He is never too busy to stop and sign some young person’s drum sticks, shirt or hat. He is a true ambassador for our activity.”
Beyond the thousands of young performers he has worked with directly in his career, Johnson has been an innovator in developing a far-reaching educational presence on the Internet. With instructive video features like “ScoJo’s Lick of the Week,” and posting tips and answering questions on social media sites like Facebook, Johnson has been an inspiration to percussion students of all skill levels.
Johnson’s ever-expanding digital footprint in addition to his successes in the drum corps arena have earned him international recognition. He is a sought after clinician and educator in a growing number of countries including Japan, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, South Africa and Indonesia, among others.
Working with the Blue Devils during the corps’ formative years, Mel Stratton is a drum corps visual pioneer that helped lay the foundation of success that the corps still stands on today.
A snare drummer with the Blue Devils Drum & Bell Corps in the 1960s (the pre-cursor to the drum and bugle corps), after several years in the United States Marine Corps Stratton settled back in the Blue Devils’ hometown of Concord, Calif.
Only in his 20s at the time, Stratton would become one of very first instructors with the Blue Devils when the group officially formed in 1971, bringing an insatiable creative vision for innovation and change to the drum corps activity.
With the Blue Devils he would serve as a designer and overall visual instructor (then known as marching and maneuvering), in addition to the caption head for the organization’s winter and summer color guard programs. According to 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Rick Odello, Stratton became one of the most influential visual and color guard instructions in Blue Devils history by creating drills that excelled in both visual imagery and difficulty.
“The Blue Devils were brought to life by the sheer force of personality, vision, drive and leadership of Mel Stratton,” Blue Devils alum and 2004 DCI Hall of Fame inductee Stephanie Lynde said. “He was fully committed to bringing about change no matter what … He was always asking the question, ‘What else is possible?’ And, ‘How can this get better than it is?’ Therein was the foundation of the Blue Devils’ philosophy and the expansive energy that continues to go beyond what we could ever imagine possible.”
With his creative vision, Stratton helped pioneer the staging of corps members on the football field to emphasize musical effects, as well as the use of drill formations and other visual techniques to bring to life the emotional intensity of the accompanying music.
“The visual design of the first Blue Devils championship show in 1976 was foundationally a product of Mel’s sense of visual showmanship and understanding that musicianship and the power of the brass and percussion sections should never be compromised,” former Blue Devils director and 1997 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Moxley said.
Working with a staff made up of future Hall of Fame greats including Moxley, Jim Ott and Wayne Downey, Stratton would be responsible in the corps’ early years to put the group on a trajectory toward greatness. After placing 23rd in the Blue Devils’ first national tour and trip to the World Championships in 1973, just three years later the group would win its first of four Championships between 1976 and 1980.
“Those of us who experienced first hand Mel’s creative talent, attention to detail and dedication to excellence, have been challenged and changed forever,” Moxley said.
After his work with the Blue Devils, Stratton went on to found the California Dons Drum and Bugle Corps in 1984. He also served as director of the marching band programs for notable California schools including Clovis and James Logan High School during the 1980s.
The Blue Devils would like to congratulate the three other inductees for 2012
Boston Crusaders Director 1971-1980
Percussion instructor and music educator
Brass arranger and composer
Blue Devils DCI Hall of Fame Members (In order of their induction)
Shirley Stratton Dorritie