1977 Royal Tournament


Above: Britain-Bound members of Vancouver’s Beefeater Band try trunks for size before packing for Friday departure. They will be first Canadian band to take part in Royal Tournament. 

– A Great Year in a Long Career of Successes for the BEEFEATER BAND

The Beefeaters were a smash hit everywhere they performed in England during the summer of 77. At the Agricultural Show in Stoneleigh before the Royal Tournament, they charmed all who saw them and made many friends. Notably were the children from Germany, The Voltigieren, amazing children’s horseback acrobatic team. The Royal Military Police Team ‘Red Caps,’ Horseman and motorcyclists, and of course the famed Band and Pipes of the Royal Scots’ Dragoon Guards.The Beefeaters had the pleasure of performing an amazing arrangement of Amazing Grace with these fine musicians in the closing ceremonies of the Fair.

The highlight of the tour was of course The Royal Tournament. The Royal Tournament opened at Earls Court at 7:30 pm on July 14th and ran through July 31st. Every day except Tuesdays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm. On July 19th there was a Review Parade. The parade was for those providing exciting and spectacular displays at the Royal Tournament. The march started from Wellington Barracks, Birdcage Walk at 2:30 pm, thence by the Victoria Memorial, The Mall and Horse Guards Road. Major General John Swinton O.B.E. General Officer Commanding London District and Chairman of the Royal Tournament Committee, took the salute from the Guards Memorial in Horse Guards Road. Participating groups were the Metropolitan Mounted Police, Royal Military Police, The Band of the Royal Marines, Royal Navy Field Gun Detachments, Band of the Australian Army Corps, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, Royal Naval Display – Zeebrugge, The British Columbia Beefeater Band, Royal Air Force Police Dogs, The White Helmets Motor Cycle Display

An unforgettable moment came when Queen Elizabeth II stood up and applauded the young girls and boys of the Beefeater Band as they made their final bow before leaving the arena.

Other highlights included the jesters and majorettes handing out a beautiful red rose to each patron as they came to the Royal Tournament the night the Queen and Prince Philip were present. The band forming an honour guard for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as their car drove up to earl’s Court. Then there was the time when the many members of the band formed an honour guard for various members of the Royal Family as they came down the red carpet.
Gordon and Louisa Olson were personally greeted by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and other members of the Royal Family during the run of the tournament; Princess Anne, Princess Margaret, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Princess Alice.

The band also enjoyed:
* Meals at the Sargeant’s Mess
* Meals at the Officer’s Mess
* Their visit to Canada House where they were personally greeted by the Honourable Paul Martin.
* General Swinton, Commander of the British Army, coming to the Band’s lounge in Earl;s Court to greet the band members personally
* A visit to the Tower of London to meet the real Beefeaters



Beefeater exports in Britain

B.C. Beefeater Band’s Patricia Post, Cathy Wilson and Karen McKay ham it up in London’s Trafalgar Square while in Britain for the famed Royal Tournament recently. The band won Royal approval from Princess Anne after one of about 20 performances it gave at the Royal Tournament in Earls Court. The B.C. Lion’s mascot band is currently on a short tour of Britain and is presently playing in Cardiff, Wales. A highlight of the three -week engagement at Earls Court was a standing ovation led by Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal Tournament has medieval origins and is an active display by military units competing for the monarch’s favor. Each performance is attended by a member of the Royal Family. The 100 member band, whose complement is almost equally comprised of males and females, is expected to return to Vancouver August 15.

ABOVE: Canada House in London

                                                         The Royal Tournament

ABOVE: The Royal Tournament outside (some Cardiff shots as well)

ABOVE: Royal Tournament (inside)


Fri. July 1 Check in at Vancouver International Airport at Air Canada’s Special Group
counter 2:40 p.m.
Fri. July 1 Depart Vancouver on Air Canada 852 4;40 p.m.
Sat July 2 Arrive London-Heathrow Airport 11:00 a.m.
After clearing customs and immigration, transfer from London Airport to
Stoneleigh in Warwickshire
Sat. July 2 to
Thurs. July 7 Accomodation provided at Stoneleigh
Sun July 3 Rehearsal at Stoneleigh
Mon. July 4 to
Thurs. July 7 Perform at Royal Agricultural Show – National Agricultural Centre, Kenilworth,
Fri. July 8 Transfer from Stoneleigh to London
Fri. July 8 to
Sun. July 31 incl. Accomodation provided in London
Sun. July 10 Royal Tournament preview parade, St. James Park
Mon. July 11 to
Wed. July 13 Rehearsals at Earls Court
Wed. July 13 Dress Rehearsal
Thurs. July 14 First performance at Royal Tournament
Sun. July 31 Last performance at Royal Tournament

ABOVE: Meeting the Royal Family at the tournament.

ITINERARY (continued)

Two performances daily including Sundays: 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
No matinees on Tuesday and no performances on Mondays
Mon. Aug. 1 Transportation from London to Cardiff, South Wales
Mon. Aug. 1 to
Sun. Aug. 14 Cardiff Teachers Training College
Fri. Aug. 5 First performance: Cardiff Searchlight Tattoo, Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, South
Sat. Aug. 13 Last performance: Cardiff Searchlight Tattoo
Mon. Aug. 15 Transfer from Cardiff to London-Heathrow Airport
Mon. Aug. 15 Depart London on Air Canada 853 12:00 noon
Mon. Aug. 15 Arrive Vancouver 1:20 p.m.

ABOVE: 1977 Royal Tournament

77- 14

                                                     The Cardiff Searchlight Tattoo

Cardiff was a beautiful city. The people were very warm and friendly towards the band. The Cardiff tattoo was truly one of the most spectacular events the band had ever performed in. On the site of Cardiff castle, each nite around 1100 performers, musicians, athletes, combat teams, mounted groups, animals and others performed to capacity audiences.

Our host and producer, Aubrey Jackman, was also a narrator of a certain segment of the program that delt with the various British Monarchs since the reign of Queen Victoria. His narration was excellent and brought back many memories and well known vignettes of the Royal Family.

Jamie Croil – Memories!

In 1977, in Vancouver, before we went to London for three weeks for the Royal Tournament (Queen’s Jubilee) and then Cardiff for the Cardiff Military Tattoo, Frank Minear came up from Seattle. He had designed the field drills and written the arrangements. In practice, I decided to try some double B’s and double C high notes. He came running over to me and said, “Is that you of going up an octave?” “Sorry,” I said. “No, no leave them in. It sounds great!” So it became a part of the show. In England we played at the Warwickshire Agricultural Show to warm up before the Royal Tournament. That was tough to follow the cows on the field. One poor guy forgot his black shoes and he had to march the entire show in his stockings. Then, back in London, we marched in a parade around St. James Park which took us past Buckingham Palace. We followed the Royal Air Force Band and behind us were the massed bands of the Royal Marines. The Royal Marine Band was made up of three bands. In total 250 players. Fifty of them were drummers with 200 winds. Neither of those bands played drum cadences between songs. When they were four bars from the end of one piece, the bass drummer would play a roll off then they would just go straight into the next number with a flip of their music folders. All the musicians were issued Boosey & Hawkes instruments. They were each taught the same vibrato and military playing technique. Each British military band has its own tempo. Their tempo is slower than the military bands of other countries and has a permanence about it; a patience, a sound of empire! I was by myself one time walking under the stands at Earls Court (Stadium). I could hear what sounded like a hockey organ playing Rule Britannia. I went around the corner and discovered it wasn’t an organ but the 200 wind musicians from the Royal Marines Band; piccolo to tuba, so perfect. I was 21 on that trip and I went as a playing chaperone. My chaperone tag was enough to get me into the Junior ranks club, the Sergeant’s Mess and the Officer’s Mess. I could go anywhere I wanted for a meal. The boys stayed on the 6th floor of the Earls Court building. The girls stayed at the Teacher’s College downtown and were bused in every morning. Half way up the stairs one day after a show some members of the Kiwi Infantry Band accosted me and started interrogating me how I got those high notes. How did I do it! I wound up meeting their lead trumpet player who was my age. We hung out and played some duets a couple of times. He was a beautiful player. When we were playing at the Cardiff Torchlight Tattoo the Welsh Guards Band was there as well. Between shows the Major who was the Director of their band called me over to his table. He says, “How would you like to play with us? We would like your high notes in our band.” I asked, “What’s the up side?” “Well, we’ll feed you, we’ll cloth you, we’ll give you room and board plus we’ll pay you. All you have to do is play your trumpet all day long.” “What’s the downside?” I investigated. “Well, you will have to do duty in Northern Ireland for six weeks out of every year.” “Is that with my trumpet?” “Unfortunately not!” It had not been a good year for the British in Northern Ireland. Beautiful band! I would have loved to play in their band.

The Olson’s were great role models. Louisa managed the majorettes and shared most of the behind the scene matters as well. They always showed a lot of formality in front of the band. Mr. Olson was a very skilled and talented man. He was very supportive to us all in a fatherly way. He always maintained that formality but he was a complete person. We got to see him smile, laugh, be angry, he was very personable. When it was time for business though, Mr. Olson was very firm, always in a fair and appropriate way.

Being in the Beefeater band gave me a strong background in music fundamentals. I learned a lot of things that Mr. Olson focused on: timing, expression, tone, articulation. One of the biggest challenges facing any young musician is where to play after high school. First we find a home in our high school band. But after high school where do we go? I was lucky! On the flight home from London in 1977 I decided I wanted to play the trumpet professionally in Vancouver. A couple of days after we returned to Vancouver we had a performance at a BC Lions game. I played my high notes again. A few days later I got a call from the great Dave Robbins. “Do you want to play in my band?” He must have heard me and liked my high notes. It was the same thing with Dal Richards. Dal was famous for his work with the Beefeaters and the B.C. Lions so he might have known about me from those days. It ended up being a pretty busy future for me.

 Traditions and legends of the Beefeater Band were passed down to each new member by the senior’s members. There is one story about the band’s first visit to the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena in 1963. It was the top parade of the college football world. It was the first time the band donned their new Beefeater uniforms. The bands in front and behind them in the marshalling area called them names and laughed at their new uniforms. It made them so mad all 120 of them marched and played the best parade they had ever marched and beat out the number one, two and three college bands in the USA to take away the trophy and the grand prize. This story is one of the cornerstones of the continuing pride in the Beefeater Band; a true espri de corps.



ABOVE: B.C. Beefeaters Band Back Home……….tour audience topped 700,000

Beefeaters return, get big welcome
The B.C. Beefeaters band – back from performing before royalty and getting a standing ovation in the process – came home to a tumultuous welcome Monday at Vancouver International Airport.
Clapping and cheering greeted the 92 members of the band, color guard and drum majorette corps as they emerged from the customs area at the end of a six-week tour of Britain.
Band director Gordon Olson described the tour as a “super success.”
“We all had a marvelous time,” he said.
The band went to Britain with an invitation to play at the Royal Tournament in honor of Queen Eliizabeth’s silver jubilee. Before the July 19 performance, the band formed the honor guard for the Queen when she arrived at the tournament.
“The best part was when the Queen gave us a standing ovation,” Ivor Palmer, an 18-year-old trombonist, said.
The band also performed at the Cardiff Tattoo in Wales and at the Royal Agricultural Show at Stoneleigh. About 700,000 people saw the band it was estimated.

On November 27, 1977 the Beefeaters played at the 65th Grey Cup game in Montreal dubbed “the Ice Bowl.”  The playing surface was more ideal for ice hockey than football. A blizzard hit Montreal two days prior to the game, and stadium crews put salt on the field to melt the snow. But as the temperature dropped the next day the melted snow turned into a sheet of ice. To combat the conditions, many of the Montreal Alouettes players put staples on the bottom of their shoes in order to get good traction. The move was spearheaded by star defender Tony Proudfoot. It was the third meeting in four years between the Alouettes and theEdmonton Eskimos. With a record Grey Cup crowd of 68,318 at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, the home team did not disappoint in a 41-6 rout over their Western rivals. The producer of Entertainment was Hugo Depot.


6 thoughts on “1977 Royal Tournament

  1. Nigel Cox


    Just had a brain fart and wondered what dates the Royal Tournament was in 1977 (my brain cell failed to recall) so, thank you for this trip down memory lane. I can’t believe it’s almost 40 years since we all performed (I was with the Royal Air Force Police Dog Demonstration Team). Just a pity that no footage remains of the televised performance, as it would be great to watch the show (and hear the music – although I do still have copies of the LP record and cassette tape 😉 )

    Anyway. Thank you, once again for giving me the dates and, for your performances all those years ago.

    All the best

    Nigel Cox


    1. Hi Nigel

      Yes, there were a lot of performances by the band over the years that it is too bad that more wasn’t saved, especially their days with the BC Lion’s FC here in Vancouver. Glad you enjoyed the memories and watch for the book in September. Chris Best, Publisher, The British Columbia Beefeater Band.


  2. John Molnar

    Great to see this website. This tour (London) was the hardest tour out of the 6 tours i did with the Beefeaters but it was the most memorable for sure. There was so much marching practise before we went to London, I learned what dedication was. I still see some of the people from the Beefeaters every once in awhile, it would be great to have a reunion.
    thanks for the memories Chris


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s