12 Corps Of Christmas – 1978-1982 Guardsmen

The Guardsmen Drum and Bugle Corps in 1979. The full drum line is in this picture at the front of the field, as well as members of the corps behind them.

I’ll admit, this entry onto my list is a stretch since the Guardsmen are playing “Greensleeves”, but considering it is the same melody as “What Child Is This?”, I decided to roll with it.

The Guardsmen Drum and Bugle Corps from 1978. In this photo is the drum major conducting on their podium with the drum line also in the picture.

It was a different time for drum corps in the 1970s and 1980s. The uniforms were closer to the military roots of the activity, the drill was still quite symmetrical (you want to trigger a drummer from that time? Say the words “elevator drill”), and corps would recycle music charts year after year. One prime example of this was the Guardsmen during the years of 1978 to 1982, and their use of Greensleeves as their closer in each of those five seasons.

The Guardsmen Drum and Bugle Corps from 1979. This close-up shot of performers on the field shows their double shakos, head gear literally twice as high as normal.

The double shakos the Guardsmen wore were unique and a quick way to identify the corps anytime they performed. On the music side, the corps made use of many popular charts such as Chuck Mangione’s Children of San Pedro, William Walton’s Henry V, and, of course, this classic British folk song. The Guardsmen approached Greensleeves with great reverence, starting the song quietly, usually facing backfield or to the side, building the intensity of the music throughout the entire chart until they reached their full powerful volume. The corps also performed Greensleeves at a stately slow tempo, taking their time to ensure that build of power achieved its full impact at the end.

The Guardsmen Drum and Bugle Corps in 1979. The full drum line is in this picture at the front of the field, as well as members of the corps behind them.

The Guardsmen made DCI Finals 4 out of 5 years (1976, 1978-1980) before dropping out. After a couple seasons off in 1983 and 1984, the corps returned to the Class A/A-60 ranks in the 80s and 90s before shutting down for good after the 1994 season. For a few seasons, though, the Guardsmen gave us a little Christmas cheer, even if it was indirectly.

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