About the Blue Devils

Current Staff | Current Members

The most decorated corps in the history of DCI, the Blue Devils have finished in the top five for over 40 years and have won the DCI World Championship title more than any other performing group. Ages 17–21.


History

The Blue Devils were founded in 1957 by Ann and Tony Odello and toured on a national level for the first time in 1973. In their second year of national competition, the corps earned full DCI membership by their 9th place finish at the 1974 DCI Championships in Ithaca, NY. In 1975 the corps placed 3rd, and they won their first Drum Corps International Championship in 1976. Since 1975, the Blue Devils have never placed out of the top five and have won the world title an unprecedented 18 times: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. Read the full history of BDPA.

In 1958, the Blue Devils added glockenspiels (bells) to their percussion line (becoming a Drum and Bell Corps) and spun the Majorettes (baton twirlers) off as an independent unit of the organization. The Drum and Bell Corps continued to provide the Majorettes with musical accompaniment during parades and shows. Both units achieved early success in competitive field show events and city parades. In 1961, a Color Guard (flag section) was added to the unit which competed in the State Junior division. The Junior Drum and Bell Corps - a mix of boys and girls - had a remarkable record; going undefeated in the California State Championships from 1957 to 1970.

Mr. Tony Odello resigned as manager of the Bell corps in 1964 and Jerry Seawright assumed the managers duties.

In 1968, a third unit was added to the Blue Devils when the original Junior Drum and Bell Corps elected to compete as a Senior unit and a new Junior Corps was established. All of these units did so well that in the late 1960's, the Senior Drum and Bell Corps decided to make the transition to a full Drum and Bugle Corps.

In 1970, the Blue Devils recruited 10 brass players, who joined the talented percussion line and Color Guard from the Bell Corps. On February 14, 1971, the Blue Devils attended their first "standstill" competition in Downey, California. By the spring of 1972 the Drum and Bugle Corps had grown in size to more than 70 members and traveled on their first summer tour to compete with groups in the Pacific Northwest. The Corps did very well and changed their category from "B" to "A" status that same year.

The Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps first toured on a national level in 1973, competing with hundreds of other organizations across the nation in Whitewater, Wisconsin. By placing a very respectable 23rd in the Whitewater "National" competition, the Blue Devils A Corps gained associate membership in prestigious Drum Corps International association (a status given to only the top 25 national groups.) Also during 1973, the Junior Drum and Bell Corps was converted to a B Bugle Corps, and an even younger-aged C Bugle Corps was established.

In 1974, the older A Corps earned a full DCI membership by their 9th place finish at the DCI Championships in Ithaca, New York. That year the Twirling Corps continued to grow and attended their first U.S. Twirling Association (USTA) National Championships in San Francisco. The Twirlers were 40 members strong at the time and were accompanied at this competition by the B Bugle Corps.

In 1975 the A Corps made a tremendous jump to 3rd place at the DCI Championships in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1976, the A Corps won their first Drum Corps International Championship, sweeping all categories. Since 1975 the Blue Devils have never finished out of the top five and have won the DCI World Championship title in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017. The Blue Devils' record of 18 DCI championships stands as an envied accomplishment in the drum corps activity. Adding to their impressive record setting DCI world championships, the Blue Devils in 2005 won the prestigious World Music Contest in Kerkrade, Holland.

In 1983 the corps attended the “21st Century Celebration” in Osaka, Japan. In 1988, the percussion section was featured as the centerpiece of a week-long schedule of performances at Japan’s Mitsui Greenland, and in the spring of that year, the Blue Devils Winter Guard traveled to the Netherlands. In 1992, the corps traveled to Nice, France, for “Carnaval”, and to the Netherlands for clinics and performances. The corps returned to Japan in the fall of 1996 for a ten-day tour of field shows, parades, theatre performances, and clinics. 2000 saw the Blue Devils’ thrilling return to Europe with a 3-week tour appearing in Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France. In 2002, a 38-member ensemble was the guest of the city of Okayama, Japan, providing a series of performances and clinics for Japanese elementary, intermediate, and high school students as part of the “Marching in Okayama” music festival. A 58-member ensemble of the Blue Devils returned to Japan in the fall of 2003 for an encore tour. The Blue Devils returned to Europe in the summer of 2005, where the toured for 3 weeks culminating with a World Championship at the “World Music Contest” in Kerkrade, Holland.

The Blue Devils have also provided unique opportunities to their fans and members by offering performances and clinics with great artists in the musical world. They have been featured in concert with Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew, Chuck Mangione, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich. Clinic performances spotlighting the Blue Devils have featured Ralph Humphrey, Dave Weckl, Steve Houghton, Peter Erskine, Bob Montgomery, David Garibaldi, and many others. Musical selections from these great artist have been highlights of Blue Devils repertoires over the years.

Off the Field

In 1997, the opportunity to perform in an intimate theater environment motivated the Blue Devils to create their “On Stage” series. The premiere production, “Exaltation,” combined the intimacy of the theater with the power and exhilaration of the field performances. 1998 saw an expansion of performance opportunities with the creation of “Exubero” which was performed to full capacity audiences in Denver, San Antonio, Ypsilanti, and at Disney’s EPCOT American Amphitheater. In 1999, audiences in Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Denver, San Antonio, and Madison were treated to the exciting “{Jazz} Man in the Moon.” The 2000 On Stage production was the centerpiece of the Blue Devils European tour.

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