Band of Gold Story - 1972

posted Jul 14, 2012, 7:52 AM by Largo Gold   [ updated Aug 11, 2018, 12:36 PM by LBOG AA ]

The year 1972 began much the same as in the past with a trip in early January to Tampa Stadium to perform pregame and halftime shows at the Lion’s American Bowl in Tampa, followed in March by the American Cup horse jumping championship. The only difference was that the Blue Band

accompanied the Band of Gold to these events to carry the flags of the Festival of States’ National Flag Pageant.  The flags were the perfect addition to these patriotically themed events, and when combined with the various units of the Band of Gold, made for very impressive shows. In fact, the pairing of the Band of Gold and the Flag Pageant continued at special events for many years. The Largo bands continued their duties as the pageantry unit for the Festival of States later in March and into April, performing at many events. Also in April, the Golden Strings participated at a FBA assessment for orchestras in Gainesville and received the highest “Superior” rating. During this entire period in the winter and spring, the various instrumental musical units at Largo High continued to perform at a number of local concerts and parades.

It was another busy summer in 1972. Due to a scheduling conflict with Camp Keystone, band camp was moved to a more luxurious home. The Edgewater Beach Motel in downtown St. Petersburg served as the host for band camps for the remainder of the Cotter era. Band members loved the upgrade in accommodations from the previously rustic camps, including air conditioned rooms.  An additional benefit was more exposure, since residents and local media were able to easily stop by and watch the rehearsals. The Baltimore Colts were playing all three of their home preseason exhibition games at Tampa Stadium in 1972, and the Community Band of Gold performed at two of them. The first was the Colts versus the Washington Redskins on August 4, and the second,

which was on national television but blacked out locally, was the Colts versus the Detroit Lions on September 1. In between these games was another big moment in Band of Gold history: The VFW National Band Competition in Minneapolis. The contest represented a unique opportunity for the Community Band of Gold to repeat their unprecedented sweep of the parade, concert and field events, which they had accomplished in Dallas just a year earlier. They were successful and were crowned National Champions again. This would prove to be the last VFW competition for the Band of Gold. Denise East and Tom Jones are shown holding the championship trophies.

After returning from Minneapolis, Bob Cotter was contacted by a former student who had become the director of the high school band in Forest City, North Carolina. His band had competed at an international competition in 1970 in Kerkrade, Holland. This inspired Cotter, and plans were put into place to take the Band of Gold to the next level by competing at the international contest. The World Music Concourse was held every four years in Holland. It would prove to be quite a challenge to raise the necessary funds in time to compete at the next scheduled competition in 1974. It would become necessary for the Band of Gold to compete in contests closer to home. The music program would need every dime in order to travel to Europe.

When the 1972-1973 school year started, demand for the band to perform was at an all-time high. Of course the Band of Gold and Blue Band continued to perform at Friday night Packer games (with the exception of the Clearwater/Largo game, which was traditionally played on Thanksgiving night). But first, it was back to Miami to perform at the Dolphins final preseason NFL game against the Minnesota Vikings on September 9. The game was broadcast nationwide on CBS.

Unfortunately the local affiliate, WTVT Channel 13, preempted the Band of Gold’s halftime performance to broadcast local news. They were unaware that a local band was performing. After complaint calls flooded their switchboard, the news department became curious about the music program at Largo. Eventually, this led to a thirty minute documentary on the Band of Gold, broadcast during prime time. The accompanying picture shows the Channel 13 "mobile studio"  which was used while filming at Largo High.

A few weeks later, the St. Petersburg Times featured the Largo music

program as the cover story for their Sunday magazine, “The Floridian,” on November 26. These were indeed exciting times.

Just prior to all of this media coverage, the Largo music program started an event that continues even today. The Golden Invitational Band Contest was first held in October 1972 as a way to offer local bands the opportunity to compete against each other rather than just receive a FBA rating. The Band of Gold and Blue Band performed demonstration shows, but did not compete. The Golden Invitational not only became a way for local bands to showcase their talents, but it also became an excellent fund raising opportunity for the Largo music program. This past September (2017) marked the 46th anniversary of the event.