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Marching students on the football fieldMarty Schindel and John Upton on Sousaphones ( ok, half of a sousaphone ) Ralph Johnson giving Directions and pointing Mark Thrasher Alto Sax in Western Michigan shirt and Ted Hennig waving in from the right. John Upton appears frequently with the DSO and Mark Thrasher has been playing in Broadway pit ochestras since graduating from U of M. (He won the Interlochen summer camp first prize scholarship to U of Michigan)1977

Plymouth started in competition in 1977, prior to that,The Rose Bowl Parade and the Orange Bowl parades were the big events of the James Griffith led PCEP MARCHING BAND.

The transformation from U of M style high stepping Football halftime show to corp. style was just taking place as Mark Petty,  founder of the Plymouth fife and drum, had left to run the very successful Flushing Marching Band. His attempt to change the Plymouth Fife and Drum corp. to a Drum and Bugle corp. had met with strong opposition and Whitney Prince took over as PF&D director.  The Bicentennial was over and the days of the Plymouth Fife and Drums tenure of "Farm Teaming" the drumline through the summer was losing steam as well. Still in the fall of 1977 the PCEPMB was big in numbers (I think around 191 members) and faired well in it's first season taking a couple of caption awards (Color Guard, I think) But was still working on it's competition show while learning new music shows for the weekly football games. That was also the year Salem made it to the first round of State finals (in football) where they were defeated in a freezing blizzard, The halftime of course was a Freezing muddy mess. There also was BAND DAY at the BIG House in Ann Arbor during their regular season in which many bands filled the endzone and participated in halftime. Plymouth marched the post game show on the hollowed ground at Michigan Stadium for the parents and fans that would soon start The Plymouth Marching Band Boosters.

Also competition shows in Flint ( Hosted by The Flushing Raiders ) and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo were big events for us then. It was apparent that we were overdue for a makeover if we were going to seriously compete.

Marching students on the field1978

1978 Started out well But a little miss understanding of some senior mischief during the girls "midnight concert " resulted in expulsion of 3 drum line members and 1 trumpet and Tuba for the season. Basically They left quarters to shaving cream the girls cabin and were kicked out of the band. The Repercussions of that resulted in some serious
shake up of some camp counselors who had over stayed their welcome the following year. They were out and a new Booster organization was formed to get the band on the right track.

Joe LaBeau in marching uniformJoe LaBeau1979

ENTER THE BLACK & YELLOW. 1979 Feb. 16th 1979 The Newly formed Plymouth Centennial Educational Park Marching band boosters sponsored a Uniform drive kick off dinner to raise money for new uniforms. Doris Rorabacher, Jerry Hotchkin,Mary Jo LaBeau and Jan Young ( And some others) used their fund raising
experience as Plymouth Fife and Drum parents to generate funds for new Yellow and black Uniform Blouses for 1979-1980. They also came up with the now familiar Stickmen Logo and raised funds with the PMB teddy bear logo decals. The event was held at The Plymouth Cultural with the PCEP Stage band performing songs out of their 150 song repertoire.( They would take 1st place at the Central Ohio Jazz Festival at OSU in Columbus a couple months later !!! ) Finally gone were the black , white & blue Tuxedo with spats and Red White & Blue Plumes uniforms and in were the Yellow and black.

Now we were really cooking. Carl Battischel ,who had started in 1978 was really taking the reins and James Griffith was taking a more back seat approach to his involvement, Directing the Music was his Forte. Former band member Ralph Johnson wrote many of the charts used during this time. 79-80 and 80-81 Plymouth was taking 1st in many of the competitions ,Drumline, Color Guard , Best of overall etc... and had finally eclipsed the Flushing Raiders as The Band To Beat.

It was also the Beginning of the Plymouth Marching Band Competition with the second annual event being held on October 17th 1980. I was fortunate enough to play tenor sax in 77-78, Triples for the week of band camp in 79 (Oops, yea I was Kicked out). Triples again in 79-80 and snare drum in 80-81 when the band and the drumline took 1st in state (This was prior to BOA).

StamperStamperI also was lucky enough to be in the award winning stage band for three years playing weddings,( Yea, we got paid )festivals and jazz competitions in Ohio,Michigan & at Notre Dame University. I still play saxophone around town and have played with blues
legend James Cotton and Capital records Nashville recording artist Trace Adkins. Mostly I play for the love of music, (And cash ).But for every big gig there are a hundred dark Smokey bar gigs.

For those who have learned to be responsible,disciplined and to accept the challenge of excellence demanded by this program,there are no losers. SSgt. Markley is right to point out the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. It's the knowledge you did your best and worked with your band mates for a common goal that will last in your memory, not the point total.

Joe LaBeau 1977-1981 Sax & DrumLine