History of BDPA

In 1957 Bill Martin resigned as manager of the The Martinettes (an all boy drum corps and girl drill team). Ann and Tony Odello and the Concord branch of the V.F.W. acquired the unit and founded the Blue Devils (named "Blue" for the V.F.W. color and "Devils" after Concord's local land mark, Mt. Diablo). Starting with less that 50 young members, the organization began as an all-boy "Drum Corps" unit with only percussion instruments, and a separate all-girl marching team.

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 with Erlene Shaffer as manager of the majorettes. In 1965 the Twirlers fielded a group of twelve members to compete in field shows and parades.

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, 2017, 2019, and 2022. The Blue Devils' record of 20 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.

The organization also became involved with the winter-time Color Guard activity (flag competition) in the mid-1960's and over the years has competed in A, B, and C divisions, which continue today under the classifications of Prep, A, and World. The organization's first California Color Guard Circuit championship was won by the Drum and Bugle Corps Color Guard in 1971. This group then moved up from the B classification to the A class and a younger B unit was formed. Both the A and B Winter Guards dominated the local circuit throughout the 70s and early 80s. Younger Guards were formed in the late 80s, and have met with consistent local success, while the older Guard has advanced to national prominence. The Blue Devils World Winter Guard performed at the Winter Guard International Championships from 1988 through 1992 and emerged as one of the most talked about and respected units in competition. The Blue Devils' return to the WGI arena in 1995 was marked by the first of their four consecutive World Class Championships. The Blue Devils World Winter Guard currently holds the Winter Guard International record high score of 99.45, earned at their 1996 championship performance!

The Twirling Corps continued to grow after their first trip to the National Championship in 1974. They won their first National Championship in 1977 and went on to win six National Corps titles and twelve National Team titles, the most recent one in 1997. The Twirlers were gold medalists at the U.S. Trials in '82, '83, '84 and '86. They went on to compete in the World Championships in those years, and in 1983 and 1984 won two back-to-back World titles.

In the fall of 1989, the organization moved from a small office and hall facility in downtown Concord into the current building complex in the North Concord Business Park. Following the move to the new facility, the Blue Devils Music School was established and began enrolling students as young as 4 years old. The Music Program - teaching piano, percussion and basic music theory to youth aged 4 to 9 - currently serves and involves over 150 students. In 1996 the organization added yet another program, The Diablo Wind Symphony. The Symphony serves 60 - 80 students ages 14 - 18. Over 500 young people, ages seven to twenty-one, are currently members of the Blue Devils performing units. Over 6,000 young people, in 1,800 families, have been served by the Blue Devils since 1957.

Off The Field

With an opportunity to entertain and perform in an intimate theater environment the Blue Devils created their On-Stage series. In 1997, they premiered their first On-Stage production, "Exhaltation". Created with wit and humor, "Exhaltation" told the story of a lost explorer in a dangerous land in search of the long-lost elusive "Contra Bass". While introducing the different sections of the corps to the theater environment, "Exhaltation" combined the intimacy of the theater with the power and exhiliration of the field performances. 1998 saw an expansion of performance opportunities and "Exubero" was created. Utilizing the story line from 1997 and introducing completely new musical and dance productions, "Exubero" was performed in Denver, San Antonio, and Ypsilanti to sold out theaters and in Orlando to a full capacity audience 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", utilizing the talents of all sections to create a study of the ever present mystery of the effects of the moon on the cycles of Life. The 2000 On-Stage production thrilled fans throughout Europe and was the centerpiece of the European tour.

The Blue Devils have provided unique opportunities to their fans and members by offering performances and clinics with great artists in the musical world. The Blue Devils have been featured in concert with Maynard Ferguson, Bobby Shew and Chuck Mangione, as well as the late Stan Kenton and Buddy Rich. Clinics sponsored by 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 bands and artists have been highlights of Blue Devils' repertoires over the years.

The Blue Devils have broadened their entertainment horizons and formed BDEntertainment as an off-shoot of the Blue Devils to provide pageantry entertainment to a variety of clients. BDEntertainment offers site-specific entertainment for corporate events, sales and motivational meetings, trade shows and special events. BDEntertainment has exceeded all expectations and projections having employed some of the finest performers and creatives in the country. Working with production giants such as PGI and Jack Morton Worldwide as well as a variety of event planners, BDEntertainment has provided entertainment for clients, PeopleSoft, Allstate, RJ Reynolds, SBC Long Distance, Bank of the West, Life Scan, Johnson and Johnson, Wells Fargo, Sterling Jewelers, the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, and Golden State Warriors. BDEntertainment was featured on Live TV events at the NBA All-Star game in February 2005, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the 2005 Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

DCI World Champions
Blue Devils A Corps
1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982*, 1986, 1994*, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009*, 2010*, 2012*, 2014*, 2015, 2017*, 2019, 2022*
World Music Contest Champions
Blue Devils A Corps
DCI Open Class Champions
Blue Devils B Corps
2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016
WGI Guard World Champions
Blue Devils Winter Guard
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998
WGI Percussion World Champions
RCC Indoor Percussion
2002, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2015*, 2018
Twirling Championships
Twirling Corps
12 National Team Championships, 6 National Corps Championships, 2 World Team Championships
* Undefeated
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