On Sunday August 3rd, 1975 the Vancouver Beefeater band boarded Wardair Flight #402 at Vancouver International Airport at 6:20 p.m. for bound London’s Gatwick Airport. They would be in the old country until September 14. After a few days of sight seeing in in and around London, the band was off by motor coach for Edinburgh, Scotland where they would full fill another engagement at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo from August 9 through September 14.
ABOVE RIGHT: The Chaperones Mr. & Mrs. Anderson, Vi & Dave Alexander, Greta and Lance Jewall ABOVE LEFT: Lance Jewall, Gordon & Louisa Olson.
In London they stayed at the Atlantic Hotel. Their London itinerary included all the sites, the West End, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Hyde Park and Picadilly Circus.
The next day the band was off by coach to Stratford, Blenheim Palace and Oxford. And the next day they visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Bank of England, Mansion House, The Stock Exchange and the Tower of London. The following day would see them visit the cathedral city of York. The following day would see them travelling on to their appointment in Edinburgh.
In Edinburgh they stayed at Pollock Hall at the University of Edinburgh.
ABOVE LEFT: Connie Demchuk, Mancy Alexander, Karen Alexander, Gloria Grassi, Cindy Arsenault ABOVE RIGHT: Nancy Alexander, Connie Demchuk, Gloria Grassi, Karen Alexander, Cindy Arsenault
THE BIG PARADE
JUMPING IN JEST
High jinks on Princes Street today – from the Jester Corps of the British Columbia Beefeater Band, one of the colorful attractions of the tattoo. The parade was watched by thousands of visitors thronging the pavements.
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is probably the most spectacular event of the Festival – and there’s no doubt that it is the most popular.
More than 200,000 spectators will walk up the historic Royal Mile to see this year’s spectacular, which will cost an estimated 270,000 pounds. And that does not take into account of the millions who will watch the televised performance in Britain, Europe, Canada and Australia.
There is no doubt that the tattoo organisers have established the almost perfect combination which keeps the crowds coming back year after year, and makes the event a “must” for most visitors.
The Tattoo had huimble beginnings. In 1948 and 1949 a few thousand people watched military displays at the Ross Bandstand in West Princes Street Gardens, but it was not until 1950 that the event, which has developed into the present tattoo, was launched.
In 1950, audiences clutching their one shilling programme, watched eight items, including a pageant scene on the installation of General George, the Duke of Gordon, as Governor of Edinburgh Castle.
The evenings entertainment, lit by Second World War searchlights, included massed pipes and drums and military bands and sing-a-long numbers.
Much of the success of the Tattoo lies with its director from 1950 to 1966. the late brigadier Alaister Maclean, an exuberant character whose enthusiasm and drive lifted it to world level and created a legend for himself in the process.
This year Brigadier Jack Sanderson, who was assistant to Brigadier Maclean for six years, is stepping down from thw producer and commentator’s rostrum. Now 66, he can look back on eight Tattoo’s of his own, and for this year’s, his ninth, he is firmly in the chair until the closing night.
ABOVE RIGHT: Young members of the Vancouver Beefeater’s Band get in some musical and marching practice at Craigiehall, Edinburgh yesterday in preparation for their part in this year’s Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
ABOVE LEFT: Waving the flags at this year’s Edinburgh Tattoo are the Beefeater Band including majorettes (from left) Nancy Alexander (14), Karen Alexander (17), Cindy Arsenault (16), Gloria Grassi (19) and Connie Demchuk (15). They’ve been practicing their swirls and steps at Craighall, near Edinburgh.
ABOVE: Back home at the PNE Parade
On February 21-22, 1976, the Beefeaters appeared on the Variety Club Telethon. Guests included Jo Anne Worley, Monty Hall, Gloria Kaye, Paul Horn, Blake Emmons and Bob McGrath.
Jamie Croil (continued)
In 1975 we went to Edinburgh. When we arrived in London, en route, we couldn’t find anywhere to practice. We went to Hyde Park but the ground was too uneven and, after playing a couple of tunes, the police kicked us out. It would have been easy for us to injure ourselves marching on wobbly ground. So we didn’t practice for a week. Mr. Olson was an outstanding band director. He had some techniques that he used to get what he needed from the band. For example, when we arrived at our next stop in York, still en route to Edinburgh, we had a couple of hours to spare. We found a triangular piece of ground and got out to practice. We sounded terrible and the ground was rough. He knew it would be bad but he wanted us to regain our focus. He gave us a lot of grief that day trying to whip us into shape. We only had 6 trumpets. At dusk Mr. Olson said, “Come on; let’s go get a Wimpy burger.” As we were getting into the bus the trumpets agreed to stay behind for more practice. We practiced our marching for about an hour and then we walked back to the university where we were staying. There was a heat wave that summer and it was hard to find a cold drink. We found some finally at the university then we practiced our music for another hour and a half. We basically memorized it. The next day we arrived in Edinburgh and went straight to Craigy Hall where we were staying. Once out of the bus Mr. Olson immediately called another practice out on the adjacent football pitch. On the field he said, “Trumpets you don’t have your music.” We told him we had memorized our parts. We sounded great! It wasn’t long before he started giving grief to the other sections. “Why can’t you sound like the trumpets?” he asked. He let us trumpets go half way through the rehearsal. We were in Edinburgh for 5 weeks, the run of the Tattoo. We made a recording with the military bands that year and another one in 1977. Also staying at Craigy Hall were the Maori Singers. The first night they all went into town and the next day they were restricted to barracks. There was a bomb threat made against them. Nice guys! They weren’t allowed to play rugby either because someone always seemed to break a collarbone or something. The band worked hard that summer. The crowds were amazing! There were five military bands and five pipe bands in all. When they all came together and played in the Grand Finale it was such a beautiful sound. Near the end, all the lights would dim for the lone piper on the castle ramparts to play “Sunset”. In the darkness, the front row of the massed military bands would throw something over the rest of the musicians behind them: toilet paper one night. The entire formation was covered in toilet paper. Another night it was mandarin oranges and another night coins. You could hear them tingeing off the brass bells. Then all the wind bands would join in with the lone piper and all the pipe bands would join. It’s such a beautiful piece. It was such a great musical experience for us in that format and to hear the full size of the band was wonderful and had such a great low brass section. For the finale the massed wind bands marched off the esplanade to ‘Scotland the Brave’ (I think); we would all do a counter-march then back down the esplanade out onto High Street. We all had to stop and pass through this narrow cast iron gate on the right, one by one. I was at the back of the line and the pipe bands who came out behind us playing the Black Bear March were bearing down on me. The drums were pounding and the buildings were rattling. I was confronted by a wall of bass drums and guys who looked much bigger than they were with busbies and epaulettes. I couldn’t get out of the way. They were frightening! I got the full realization why they were used in war. I remember the first night they had half price tickets for seniors. We started off our portion with fanfare trumpets. The lights would dim and we would run off and exchange our fanfare trumpets for small ones and then get up on stage in time to play. Then we would walk off the risers and go into our drill routine. It was an amazing show. After the show Al Guraliuk and I went back to get the fanfare trumpets. We were tall and could see out over the entire crowd as they were leaving. The average height was about 5 foot three inches. We towered above them. One night near the end of our stay about ten of us found a pub. A couple of us went up to get the drinks. On the way back an old guy tugged at my pant leg and asked, “Excuse me lad but is there a competition?” only in Great Britain. They were great times!