The Fleetwood Drum and Bugle Corps Story
In 1958, from a converted supermarket in Revere, Massachusetts, Fleetwood Recording Co. was born. Richard I. Blake, the future editor of Drum Corp News walked in to his cousin, Raymond G. Samora’s supermarket with an idea for recording Drum and Bugle Corp competitions. Here are the actual liner notes from the first album ever produced by Fleetwood. “On July 31,1958 in the auditorium of the Eastern Standard Oil Co. in Everett MA, side A of the Princemen was recorded, side B was recorded on August 23, 1958 in actual competition at the 7th annual senior Drum and Bugle Corps competition at Hawkins Stadium, Albany NY”. From that day on Fleetwood traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada every summer for 20 years producing over 300 albums. Along the way we began publishing Drum Corp News and ran our own major competition, the “World Open Championships” and a favorite winter escape the exhibitions called “An Evening with the Corps” at Carnegie and Symphony Halls. No one would dispute that Fleetwood Records was a major force in developing the popularity of Drum and Bugle Corps in those early days.
Over the years many people have called and written asking if we are the Fleetwood from the “old Drum Corps days” and do we have any of the old records? My younger employees pass the phone to me and say they’re asking about that “Drum Corp stuff again”. This usually led to a nostalgic conversation with the caller recalling the glory days of Drum Corps and their memories of the Fleetwood albums. Yes, I would always answer, we are that company but no, we do not have the recordings. These conversations have been going on ever since I took over the company. Last year we made the decision to re-release the original Fleetwood Drum & Bugle Corps catalog. I called my old boss and the founder of Fleetwood and member of the Drum Corps hall of fame, Ray Samora. He made some calls to old friends like Moe Knox and Glenn Kubacki and we began this labor of love.
First, getting the original masters was impossible. A fire at our company in 1975 destroyed them all, along with artwork. So the idea was to take the original albums and combine them with modern technology, take the old Fleetwood Recording Co. technology of the 60’s and incorporate the new Fleetwood digital technology of today to produce a CD that faithfully re-creates the original album right down to the cover and liner notes, only with better quality. The albums on this website are the result of that idea.
We hope you enjoy these memorable albums as much as we enjoyed making them. We want this site to be more than a place to purchase albums. We hope you will find this website to be a place to exchange information and reminisce and remember long ago summers. We hope this site will bring old Drum Corp fans together to correspond and interact. Over time we plan to have most if not all of the entire Fleetwood catalog available. We welcome your suggestions as to how we can make this site more useful and enjoyable. Fleetwood is proud to present our CD collection.
The Fleetwood Sports Album Story
Fleetwood’s initial foray into the world of sports recordings began with the basketball album Havlicek Stole the Ball chronicling the first eight years of the Celtics dynamic championship run of 11 championships in 13 years.
The success of that Celtics album convinced Fleetwood that there was a market for such a product and their next release, The Impossible Dream, was just that. The recording was originally a radio special put together by radio station WHDH and highlighted the Red Sox incredible season of 1967.
The success of the first two albums convinced Vinnie Giarusso (then owner of Fleetwood) that he was onto to something big. Fleetwood began developing albums for every team that won a championship over the next several years. In baseball we did a season recount of the 1968 Detroit Tigers world championship. So successful were the first two baseball releases that in 1969 the company produced an album to commemorate the first 100 years of baseball
In 1969 Fleetwood scored a big hit with the release of Miracle Mets. In that particular album, side one was devoted to the telling of the Mets history from their inception in 1962 through the lean years up to 1968. Side two was devoted to their world championship season.
During the 70’s the Fleetwood sports productions were rolling along. Every team that won a championship, in any of the major league sports, was looking to release a highlight record of their own and Fleetwood was the place to go. The Fleetwood name was becoming synonymous with sports recordings.
In just the game of baseball the 1970’s saw the company produce albums on the Baltimore Orioles world championship season of 1970. The Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, The Oakland Athletics in 1972,The Cincinnati Reds in 1975, the New York Yankees in 1977 and in 1980 an album on the only championship season for the Philadelphia Phillies..
However, the success of sport recordings was not the exclusive property of the winners. Many of Fleetwood’s successful albums of the `70’s involved teams that were the so called bridesmaids. Teams such as the 1970 Cincinnati Reds, the 1973 Mets, the 1975 Red Sox and the 1980 Kansas City Royals all came up short in the run for championship glory but had successful runs in the recording business as their fans were determined to keep that near taste of glory alive with the purchase of the albums that captured the glory of a season which would soon be a memory of a lifetime.
One of the most successful albums in Fleetwood’s distinguished history occurred in 1973 with the closing of Yankee Stadium for two years. The Yankees wanted to give something back to their fans to keep the memory of the glory which had been Yankee Stadium for fifty years alive. They turned to Fleetwood to accomplish the goal and as a result the final game of that baseball season saw every fane entering the game between the Yankees and Tigers receiving a complimentary record. The promotion was so successful that deluged with a demand from fanes who were unable to attend that game for an any number of reasons. Fleetwood responded by including the album in their catalogue and to this day it remains one of the more popular items available. Although it is generally described as a baseball album the Fifty Years of Yankee Stadium is actually a compilation of the notable events that took place in the House that Ruth Built, be it football or the notable visit by Pope Paul the Sixth.
Soon to follow were albums of a biographical nature on the life of Hank Aaron; when he broke the all-time home run record, and Babe Ruth, perhaps the greatest name in athletic history. Fleetwood was paving the way for what we know today as Major League marketing. Now, today, some forty years after it started, Fleetwood is finding a new generation eager to share in the accomplishments of those who make today’s accomplishments meaningful.
Over the years many of the great baseball voices graced the Fleetwood Studio to lend their assistance which made the endeavor all the more successful. Those voices ranged from Ken Coleman, Lindsay Nelson, Ned Martin, Monte Moore, Chuck Thompson, Bob Prince, Bob Murphy and Phil Rizzuto to the Hall of Fame pipes of Marty Brenaman, Ernie Harwell, Curt Gowdy and Harry Kalas.
It’s amazing how a suggestion made at a cocktail party can turn into such an enduring legacy. Yes, that’s how the Fleetwood Sports recordings came into existence when an enterprising small recording company’s owner got caught up in a conversation with Celtics voice, Johnny Most, and with the exchange of a few ideas they gave birth to an industry that started the ball rolling for what you now witness in the various Major League Marketing divisions that grace the athletic landscape.
The CD’s available here are the result of many inquiries over the years asking to replace old and worn albums that had great sentimental value to their owners. The answer was to take the original recordings, digitally re-master them and reproduce the actual cover and liner notes. We hope you continue to enjoy the Fleetwood Sports catalog now on CD.