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Williamsport native inducted into Drum Corps Hall of Fame

September 30, 2012
By MATTHEW PARRISH ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

On Sept. 1, in Annapolis, Md., Williamsport native John Bosworth was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame (WDCHOF) along with five other distinguished drummers: George Hopkins of Allentown; Joel Matuzak of St. Paul, Minn.; Dan Rippon of Mechanicsburg; Anthony Smith of Milton, Mass.; and John "Duke" Terreri of Pine Hill, New Jersey.

Along with being inducted, Bosworth also was awarded the President's Lifetime Achievement Award.

The honors come for the drummer after a fascinating career, during which he has performed in 28 countries, in front of 11 United States' presidents and has taught in Switzerland, Scotland and Oman.

Article Photos

Williamsport native John Bosworth, second from right, is seen drumming with other members of the United States Air Force Pipe Band.

"It was an honor to be in inducted into the Hall of Fame with members that taught me in the '50s and '60s," said Bosworth.

Bosworth began drumming at the age of 12, performed with the Williamsport Black Eagles Senior Drum Corps from 1954 to '58 and joined the United States Air Force Drum Corps in 1958.

When he auditioned for the WSAF Drum Corps in '54, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge said to him, "As long as you're in this organization, you'll see and do things that you've only dreamed of."

"And in 50 years," Bosworth said, "That's really come true."

One of those surreal events came about when Bosworth was in New Orleans with the United States Air Force Pipe Band the day that President Kennedy was assassinated.

"The next thing we knew, we had a plane waiting for us," he said. "Mrs. Kennedy wanted us to play for the funeral. We actually played right at the grave when Kennedy was brought up to it at Arlington Cemetery."

He also performed for President Reagan the day there was an attempt made on the president's life.

"We played for president Reagan the day he was shot outside of Washington," Bosworth said. "We walked right by John Hinckley Jr. [the man who shot him]. We didn't know the guy we passed was going to shoot the president. We got back on our bus to Andrews Air Force Base before he had even shot him."

Bosworth said that the magnitude of performing for so many presidents didn't sink it at the time.

"The band did some unbelievable things but you never thought about it," he said. "Playing for presidents - it was just what you were assigned to do."

Of all the places at which he performed, the White House was his favorite. A few others were Tripoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark; the Coliseum in Rome, Italy; and at the Berlin Wall in Germany - before it fell.

While Bosworth was touring the world as the music director of Switzerland's Top Secret Drum Corps, he was offered an opportunity to teach in the Sultinate of Oman, an Arabic country in southeast Asia.

"The Top Secret Drum Corps was performing at the Edinborough Tattoo in Scotland and the Omanic Army Band was also there. Then we went to perform at the Tattoo in Sydney, Australia, and a delegation from Oman was sent to ask me to come to Oman."

Bosworth taught 100 young Arabian men how to play drums.

"It was a great experience," he said. "I lived in a palace and taught the Royal Guard Drum Corps - it's like our secret service. They're in charge of keeping the Sultan alive."

Bosworth's students would have several opportunities to perform for the Sultan.

"We were asked to play for the Sultan - to play in one of his palaces," he said. "He has palaces all around, out in the desert."

Marching in the desert is actually not as bad as it sounds, according to Bosworth.

"The parade fields of Oman are pressed-down dirt," Bosworth said. "They're very nice to march on because you can glide very smoothly."

Before one of their performances for the Sultan, in downtown Muscat, the capital of Oman, Bosworth was approached by a Royal Guard because of his students' behavior.

"On the way down to the palace, the drummers were in the buses - there were four buses - and they were playing with their drumsticks on the back of the seats. They were in the isles singing and the bus was rocking back and forth. A Royal Guard came afterward and said, 'This is the Royal Guard and we do not do this. Make sure the boys never do this again.' I thought to myself, this is what I did when we were kids in the Drum Corps. You drum on the back of the seats and everyone sings. I thought, 'How can I punish these boys for things I did when I was young?' "

Because of Bosworth's world travels, a WDCHOF press release said, "Perhaps more than any of our members, John reinforces the word "world" in our World Drum Corps Hall of Fame."

Bosworth is currently retired and lives on Hooper's Island in the Chesapeake Bay, 50 miles south of the bay bridge.



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