Bruce Camblin - 1962
A couple of Marching Band memories that will always stay with me are:
In the fall of 1962 the Michigan Marching Band purchased new and innovative uniforms and also added the very new white fiberglass Conn sousaphones. The picture of the Sousaphone section was featured on the front cover of the Conn advertisements that fall and the following year. These were well received, and a delightful change of weight to carry by the men.
The first game that season was on September 29th and was also Band Day. The band rehearsed at Wines Field that Saturday morning, then packed up, trucked the equipment over and reformed at the Stadium to rehearse with the high school bands. Afterwards, we repacked the equipment and trucked it back to Wines. Following a quick lunch and suiting up, we reassembled our new sousaphones and marched over to the stadium.
Coming from a small Colorado high school it was a great thrill to begin performing in front of such large crowds! I was fifth man in the line entering on the north 45 yard line. I hit that side line and high stepped it out onto the field. After about 10 yards, I felt a great weight shift backwards. I looked up and there was no edge of the bell for me to see. The screws had become loose enough that the bell pivoted 180 degrees! Now I had to think fast!!! Should I stop and fix the bell position? No, I could not without getting run over, nor was I allowed to step out of line! I had to continue to my spot on the field with a backward facing bell. Then while marking time as the remainder of the band filed in I had to reach up, turn the bell back 180 degrees and tighten the screws before the cadence stopped and we “faced” north. For the rest of my 4 years in MMB, we would get in the tunnel and I would yell, “Check your screws!” I never did hear from the Chief about that one!
The other memory I want to mention has to do with George Cavender. He loved to quote, “Perfection is made of trifles, but perfection IS NO trifle!” Throughout my career people have asked me why I am never completely satisfied. I immediately hear George’s voice making this quote! To me, striving to always get better is a major part of being a “Michigan Man!”
And one correction to Greg Heuer’s statement. Yes, I wore tennis shorts throughout all of the MMB rehearsals, but for 2 years – 64 and 65. A whole other meaning to “Go Blue!”
Greg Heuer - 1965-1969
Great stories from my fellow bandsmen above. Many will remember the rehearsal at Wine's Field, before paving, just after a strong rain storm. (We always believed Dr. Revelli had a "connection" which caused the rain to stop before rehearsal, right?) By the time we got to the "dance" part of the show the grass had become mud. As was often the case with GRC's dances this one had forward kicks in it. Every time we kicked the bandsman ahead of us got splattered with mud. It was hilarious at the time.
My loving wife of all these years, Linda Gamble Heuer, used to wait for me at the edge of the practice field. She had acquired the nick name of "Pooh Bear" and continues to tell the story of over 100 marching men of Michigan returning to the Wines building saying, "Hi, Pooh Bear!" as they passed her.
Finally, some of us remember two Tuba players: one named Bruce (Camblin?) who wore the same pair of red and white tropical shorts for rehearsal the whole football season, no matter what the temperature on Wines Field, and one named Ike who broke his ankle while waiting in the end zone at Northwestern and marched the whole half-time show on it, collapsing at the edge of the field after the exit-and-halt. Tubas are tough!
Barry Garelick - 1967
During a music rehearsal once during the 67 season, Revelli was trying to get a passage right and had the Band play it again and again. I played clarinet, and the clarinet part for that passage was rather boring: a series of whole notes tied over the duration of the passage he was rehearsing. So to break up the monotony, I chose to improvise. This was stupid considering I was seated practically 5 feet from the conductor's podium. He heard it. He let me and the whole band know as well.
Jim Henriksen - 1963
I enjoyed reading Dave Reed's story about Revelli pounding out tempos on his snare drum. It reminded me of a similar incident that occurred when the 1964 MMB was rehearsing for the 1965 Rose Bowl. Michigan hadn't been to a bowl game for a long time, so the Rose Bowl was a really big deal. The pressure of performing before a huge, worldwide audience pushed Revelli to new heights of irascibility. One day, we were rehearsing inside Yost Field House because the weather was bad. Revelli got really angry with the percussion section. (Perhaps I should just say that he was angrier than usual.) It seems that none of us could play four quarter notes in rhythm. He went down the line, and we all flunked the "test." He came over and grabbed a stick from Wilber England, our section leader, and had the band march down the "field" as he pounded out the cadence on Wilber's snare drum. What he forgot to take into account was the tremendous indoor echo. As he listened to his own echo, his tempo got slower and slower. He lost at least 10 points in 20 seconds. When the band halted, everyone hissed loudly. It's the only time I remember Revelli being loudly hissed by the whole band. Of course, they were far enough away from him to get away with it. The hissing did not improve his irascibility.
One of my personal favorite experiences took place when Revelli called a rare Friday night MMB rehearsal. The weather had been lousy, and we were badly behind in our preparations. (When your concept of time management includes taking 45 minutes to rehearse "On Wisconsin," so "we can play it better than they do," getting behind is always a distinct possibility.) Friday night was a gig night for about half the percussion section. That left me as the ranking member. Late that afternoon, a former roommate showed up at the afternoon rehearsal, so we went downtown and had a quick dinner between the afternoon and impromptu evening rehearsals. Unfortunately, a substantial portion of our dinner was in liquid form. I showed up for the evening rehearsal feeling no pain. We started out rehearsing music inside the little Wines Field field house. Playing percussion in that building was always a problem. We were constantly being told that we were too loud. That night was no exception. Somehow, I got the idea that I should see what kind of a reaction I could get out of Bill Slaby, who was standing next to me, so each time Revelli admonished us to play a little softer, I played a little louder. Bill Slaby just about had a heart attack. He tried to compensate by playing very softly. I think he ended up "air drumming." Fortunately, I wasn't called out for it. If I had had to reply to a Revelli question, my thick tongue would have given me away, and my Michigan Band career would have been over.
As an aside, air drumming is a useful skill for percussionists who are getting yelled at for playing too loud. When you do it, people say that you play with remarkable sensitivity.
One of the most useful things I learned by playing in the Michigan Band is maintaining eye contact when being yelled at. You never want to look down, because that's an open admission of guilt and defeat, and you certainly don't want to look up, because that can look like you're rolling your eyes, a definite no-no. Look straight ahead.
I have played many times for a conductor who in many respects has patterned himself after Revelli. One time we were rehearsing for a concert that included lots of soft stuff. We (the percussion section) were being yelled at constantly for playing too loud. At one point, we rehearsed a march. When we got to the trio, the conductor threw a fit. "Percussion!" he shouted. "What dynamic level do you have at the trio?" "Piano, sir" I replied. "Not even close," he sneered. "Band, take it again at the trio".
There were three of us playing (bass drum, cymbals, and snare drum). Following Michigan Band protocol - Two of us were Michigan Band veterans - the entire time we were being yelled at, we looked straight ahead. Without even a sidewise glance, the three of us independently chose our own courses of action. When the band resumed, we all laid out. (Is that soft enough, boss?) The conductor knew he'd been had, and nothing further was said.
When we were in California rehearsing for the Rose Bowl, Revelli was beside himself. One day he said something ridiculous, and the entire percussion section broke out in laughter. Bad idea. He looked at us and screamed, "YOU!" Again, "YOU!" Then "The drummer with sunglasses!" Of course we all wore sunglasses. "GET OFF THIS FIELD!" We all looked at each other. Finally, I concluded that if someone didn't get off the field, the original target of his remark would be in deep yogurt, so I did a crisp about face and walked off the field. About 15 minutes later, when Revelli's wrath was directed elsewhere, I sneaked back into my rightful position, and nothing further was said.
One time the MMB was rehearsing in Harris Hall, and Revelli somehow concluded that the percussion section wasn't paying proper attention to what was going on. Since only a handful of the section could play at one time, most of the guys were idle, so it was understandable that a few of us might have been a little less than fully attentive. The band was about to play a Karl King march. Revelli said "I'll bet that not one of you can sing the melody of this march." He went down the line, and the first 6-7 of us indeed could not sing it. He should have quit while he was ahead, but that was not his style. When he put the question to Mark Petty, Mark sang the introduction and was well into the first strain when Revelli waved him off. "That's not in rhythm at all, he huffed," thereby conveniently ignoring his original point.
"He yells at us the whole day long and says he's right when he is wrong..."
At some point, an unknown percussionist determined the optimal "squeak point" in the Harris Hall floorboards back in the percussion section. He took a piece of white chalk and marked it with an "X," which was barely noticeable, but clearly visible if you knew where to look. I can remember standing on that spot and slowly leaning back and forth, producing squeaks. It drove Revelli nuts. The essential control freak, he couldn't stand being unable to control the assorted noises of good old Harris Hall. I hope he forgives us.
One fall, for unknown reasons, Revelli showed up for MMB percussion section tryouts. The tryouts were actually a sham, since all starting positions were already filled by returning players. I remember the "old" guys sitting on top of filing cabinets, watching the new guys play. My apologies to any of you who were among the new guys. At about the time Revelli's interest in the proceedings peaked, I happened to be the active old guy. Revelli went through the standard "Play blah, blah, blah" (spoken to a new guy). Then he would turn to me and say "now you play it." Then he would tell the new guy "you need to play it the way he does." I knew that I could have done just about anything without changing the outcome, because Revelli was just making a point, and I had the good fortune of being right by definition. There were perhaps a thousand other occasions on which I was wrong by definition, so this was an occasion to be savored.
It was the same way on those occasions when he was spacing the MMB on the field. He'd take several small steps and tell a new guy "This is where you belong." Then he'd look the next guy in the eye, and if he was an old guy like me who'd paid the price in earlier years, Revelli would take several large steps, the last of which would be perfectly aligned with the old guy's feet. "Why can't you be like this boy. He knows where to stand. I don't have to tell him."
David Mairs - 1961
I wanted to clarify the age of "Temptation."
I was in the Band when we premiered it in the Fall of 1962.
We performed it at home and then took it to Purdue in a show called "Michigan Firsts." The show consisted of Bilik's arrangement of "The Great Gate of Kiev" (1st MB to perform Classical music on the field), a stock arrangement of "Steam Heat" (1st MB to do a dance on the field), and "Temptation" (1st MB to perform a percussion feature on the field). The team was losing 3000-0 by halftime, it was cold and rainy, but the Band played the Bilik charts with a sound so warm and strong that the Purdue fans stopped talking, listened intently, and gave us a standing ovation. My cousin, a Purdue student at the time, said it was the first standing ovation a visiting band had received in the 6 years he had been at Purdue.
So, "Temptation" is only 5 years younger than the Hawaiian War Chant and the date of its premiere was very close to October 12th, 1962.
Randy Safford - 1967
I'm not sure whether this was 1967 or 1968, but I have two stories. The first was at the Navy game. We had a boat race between the Navy boat and the Michigan boat. Can't remember the music, but of course the Michigan boat was supposed to win the race. However, I think it was the trombones (isn't it always the trombones?) lined up 20 yards too far over, and the Navy boat won. The old man was fit to be tied. Screaming and waving up on the scaffolding, "Get back, get back!!"
|Addendum from Joe Dobos|
|It was the '68 Navy game. That was the first year of the paved Wines field. Someone convinced George to paint all the "5" yard lines in yellow and the "0" lines in white. At the game, the head of the Navy boat, a percussionist, looked in vain for the familiar yellow line where the Navy boat was supposed to stop, thus allowing the "M" boat to go ahead and win. Well, the yellow line never appeared, and the Navy boat won.
The following week, ALL the yardlines on the marching band practiced field were painted white.
|Addendum from Barry Garelick|
|It was no mistake! One of the people in the boat formation (probably a trombone player), thought it would be a nice joke if during rehearsal, the Navy boat won the race. The normal formation was that the Navy boat people had to march half steps in order to be slower than the Michigan boat. At a certain pre-determined point in the music, it was decided we would march double time to win the race. So the time came for us to do it. Both Cavender and Revelli were furious. Cavender especially. He came over to us and said "Oh, so you want to fool around, huh? You think this is funny, huh?" And he drilled us close range for about ten minutes as punishment.
I found out later that after the rehearsal he came up to one of the instigators and told him he thought it was pretty funny, actually, but had to let us know that you don't fool around in the Michigan band.
The other story involves a trip to Champaign Urbana. Seems a couple of band members (this was before women were in the band) called up a couple of Illinois coeds, met them at their dorm, decided they didn't want to spend any time with them, said they had to go to the restroom and dumped them. The coeds were quite angry and wrote a letter to Dr. Revelli, who read it at the next rehearsal, and then said" We are not leaving until the boys who are responsible for this outrage stand up and apologize". You can imagine what happened. There was complete silence for about an hour, hour and a half, at which point he stormed out of the building. (the little one at Wines field).George let us go after that.
One more. Revelli never liked clarinets. They were always out of tune. One day he'd had enough. One at a time, he sent the whole section into this tiny equipment room to "get it fixed". There were so many clarinet players in the room that no more could get inside, so he started yelling at the poor folks who couldn't get into the room.
One more. Revelli would come onto the field and straighten out the lines. That meant he would lean to the side (because he couldn't see over anyone), and make everyone move over a couple of steps (making the line crooked in the direction opposite of his lean). George simply announced one day when the old man was absent that we were to "get back in line when he turns his back" whenever he decided to pull this stunt.
One more. A solo cornet player whose name I can't remember spent a summer working in a steel mill, and practicing a gazillion hours a week, so that he could play louder. One day Dr. Revelli was upset at the cornets, and their (according to him) feeble rendition of the Victors. He walked up to this fellow and said, "I want you to play it as loud as you can". What an opportunity!! So he did and nearly blew Revelli away.
But my best story is this. Freshman year, first rehearsal. I got kicked out of high school band in 10th grade, and hadn't played at all for two years. I called the music school at the beginning of the summer, and borrowed a sousaphone (had to audition for Dr. Revelli; can't remember what I played). I managed to find a copy of the tuba part for the Victors and practiced it a lot. Revelli showed up to teach the freshman how to play the Victors. Of course the basses were behind, and so he went "down the line". There were 12 of us; I was sitting in about 9th position. It was 4 bars, tops, and then on to the next person. Then he got to me. I started, played the intro, first strain, repeat, second strain, repeat, break up strain, etc. etc. until I finished it. He said "now that's the way it's supposed to be played!! Who are you (I answered) Are you in music school? (No, I said, LSA). You're first chair!!”
I was pretty embarrassed, as you can imagine. Fortunately, the upperclassmen were great and helped me figure out how to be a rank leader. This is before challenges, so I remained in that spot for two years.
Neil Miller - 1963
I’m the bandsman who braided the custom lanyards (whistle holders) for George & the Chief for Rose Bowl ’65. Braided them on the plane out & several late hotel nights. I thought they needed class whistle holders to match the quality of the Band & team that year (and years to come). GO BLUE.
Arthur B. Himmelberger - 1968
DO I EVER! I was Dr. Revelli’s last percussion section leader in both Marching & Symphony Band – bring a tape recorder to the “Blast”
Mike Heroy - 1964
Find a copy of the handout, “How can we have a band?” by Miles Mazur. An almost complete compendium of Revelli-isms, such as “I know it’s hard, boys, but that’s what makes it difficult.” There should be one somewhere in the MMB or 5B files.
Mark Petty - 1963
The origin of the “glock rotten club” was when Revelli was dissatisfied with one certain rank & yelled – “That rank with the glock in it – you’re rotten!” That was the only time I remember having a glockenspiel; it was played by Bob Probasco, oboe player from Nebraska. The year was about 1965.
Bruce Flynn - 1968
While living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I became of fan of drum and bugle corps competition, following in particular, the fortunes of the Concord Blue Devils (many-time national champions). I was hanging around their rehearsal area one night and an assistant came over and shooed me away. I said, “just an old Michigan Band alum trying to keep up on your new arrangements….” He turned around, walked back to me and said, “When did you play there?” “From 1968-72,” I answered. He looked at me closely and asked, “So you played for Dr. Revelli?” “Yes, I did – his last 3 years,” I replied. “Well, damn – my father played for him in the 1940’s at Michigan, C’mon in!” And I was ushered into their rehearsal hall, introduced to the director, and had the run of the place for the rest of the year. Even after all those years, the name of Revelli still inspired respect in the band world.
Richard (Dick) Follett - 1965
As a high school senior on January 1st, 1965, I watched the Michigan marching Band perform in the Rose Bowl with great envy. I had auditioned with Dr. Revelli as a twirler in December 1964 for the fall of 1965, and was accepted by him. That fall, Lynn Cooper, a senior, and Dave Smith, a sophomore, were co-drum majors for the band. I knew then that my chances of becoming drum major were slim since Dave would continue by himself his remaining undergraduate years. At the end of the spring semester 1966, I went into Dr. Revelli’s office to say good-bye for the year. He looked at me and remarked that I was taller than any of the recent drum majors. Since I would be the assistant drum major, he had Mr. Cavender order a new drum major’s uniform for me – “just in case.” Little did we know how wise that decision was to be.
The second game of the 1966 season, my sophomore year, was Band Day where 200 high school bands joined us on the field at half-time. Thus, the MMB had only a pre-game show to worry about. I arrived at what was then known as Wines Field (now Elbel) early that Friday afternoon to warm up as a contented twirler. Mr. Cavender was looking for me, and the drummers sent me to him immediately. He said Dave Smith had called in sick early that afternoon-the first time in anyone’s memory that drum major missed a rehearsal: I would be the acting drum major in about an hour. Then, he told me UPS had delivered my uniform just after Dave had called in. He presented it to me and told me to prepare myself. Wilbur England, who later became the assistant MB director at Indiana University, was the head of our drum line. He told me not to worry about tempos: “just blow four whistles and we’ll correct the tempo is necessary.” We got through the rehearsal quite well, but I was a nervous wreck that night.
The next morning, Dave, visibly ill and weak, made it through practice and over to the stadium. I remember our entrance from the tunnel very well. There were two twirlers, and the grass was a bit slippery. The first twirler, ahead of me, fell on his entrance. I was OK. Then Dave dropped the goal-post toss, the only time he ever did that. The Detroit Free Press’ lead lines in its Sunday morning Sports Section, which were read to us the following afternoon, were something like this: “It was a bad day for Michigan even before the team took the field. One of the twirlers fell on his entry and the drum major dropped the goal-post toss.” Well, by that time we knew Dave had a good reason for dropping his baton: his appendix had been removed Saturday evening after the game! When Mr. Cavender called me in my dorm room early Sunday morning, he told me I was drum major for at least the next several games, and the coming week Michigan was at Michigan State .
My debut game of my nearly three years as drum major of the MMB was in East Lansing – after one week of rehearsals.
In 1969, after I had graduated and was teaching high school students, the Big Ten Rose Bowl bid came down do Michigan vs. Ohio State, as it has so many times. I was in Ann Arbor for that game up in the band’s family-and-friends seats. When Michigan won, I was, of course, very pleased, but I also felt the irony of being sandwiched between two Rose Bowl trips: 1965 (before I got in) and 1970 (after I graduated). When I congratulated Dr. Revelli on the victory, he reached up, put his arm on my shoulder, and said he was sorry I had not had the opportunity to make the Rose Bowl trip during my career. When Mr. Cavender joined us, they talked for a moment and then asked if I would like to go along to Pasadena as an assistant.
That year, Michigan had had no twirlers, only the drum major, and as Dr. Revelli and Mr. Cavender continued talking about my rejoining the band for the trip, Dr. Revelli said it would be a good idea for me to take along the drum major uniform- “just in case.” I then asked if it would be appropriate for me to check out a twirler’s uniform also and perform in that capacity. He and Mr. Cavender were delighted. I had from Thanksgiving to Christmas to get back into shape for the parade and game, and those long, solo rehearsal hours back at my high school were exhilarating.
My dream of performing in the Rose Bowl with the Michigan Marching Band had come true, and twirling there was pure joy without the pressure of being drum major at the last minute!
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