Band of Gold Story - 1970

posted Jul 14, 2012, 7:59 AM by Largo Gold   [ updated Aug 11, 2018, 12:11 PM by LBOG AA ]

The Band of Gold was busy right at the start of 1970. They performed the pregame and halftime shows at the 3rd Annual Lion’s American Bowl at Tampa Stadium on January 3. Even though this was the third American Bowl, it was the first time the game was sanctioned by the NCAA. Because of this, the game was broadcast on syndicated television. It would the first of many television appearances for the band. During the rest of the winter and into spring, the band continued to perform at school concerts, parades, and the opening of the Pinellas County Fair.

On April 8, the band was involved in a controversy involving the Florida Bandmaster’s Association (FBA). The FBA held an annual assessment in which bands were rated on a scale from poor to superior, but were not given a numerical score to see how they competed against each other. The Band of Gold was given an “excellent” rating at the assessment, which was the second highest rating. The judges were impressed by the

field show, but deducted points because the Band of Gold marched in a style more typical of drum corps; a style not recognized by the FBA. The Pinellas County School Board would not allow bands rated less than superior to travel outside the county. This rule did not sit well with Bob Cotter, who was already planning for the Band of Gold to compete at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) national contest, which was being held in Miami in 1970. To accomplish this, Cotter withdrew the Band of Gold from the FBA, and in order to legally compete, he formed the “Largo Summer Band of Gold,” which would later be renamed the “Largo Community Band of Gold” in 1971. The Summer/Community Band of Gold was essentially the same as the high school band, however it did allow a few recent graduates to perform with the core high school group. Since this version of the band was a separate entity from the high school band, the school board was powerless to prohibit travel to out of county events. The Golden Strings Orchestra continued to participate in FBA assessments since there were really no contests for high school orchestras.

Just a few days later, on April 8, the Band of Gold made its first performance at the St. Petersburg Festival of States marching band contest, “Champions on Parade.” The band performed for demonstration purposes only, but this was the first of many visits the bands of Largo High would make to St. Petersburg and the Festival of States during the next ten years.

During the weekend of August 15, the Band of Gold would enjoy its first victory at a national contest. The Summer Band of Gold traveled to Miami to compete at the VFW National Contest. They did well, finishing third in concert, second in field, and first in parade competition. Suddenly, Lago had a national champion on its hands. Local media picked up on the story, and demand immediately increased for the band to perform at functions around the area and statewide.

As the 1970-1971 school year started, the Band of Gold was prepared for several big events. Weeks earlier, Bob Cotter held another band camp, this time at Camp Keystone near Odessa. The band had already learned three field shows by the time school started, which was a good thing, for they were to perform at the Miami Dolphins/Washington Redskins exhibition football game at Tampa Stadium on September 5. The Band performed at a couple of political events in October. Gov. Claude Kirk, Sen. Reuben Askew, and Sen. Lawton Chiles were speaking at the Florida Farm Bureau convention, which was held at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater. The Band of Gold was there to perform at a barbecue and to unfurl a large 40 by 60 foot American flag. President Richard Nixon spoke at a Republican Party campaign rally in St. Petersburg on October 28, and the Band of Gold was there to welcome him. During the fall, the Band of Gold and Blue Band continued to perform at Largo Packer football games, where they found themselves sharing the spotlight with the football team. 1970 finished in grand style with another trip to Miami. This time, the Band of Gold performed at the Miami Dolphins/New York Jets football game at the Orange Bowl on December 13. The game was of some importance, and was broadcast nationwide on NBC. This was a special moment for Band of Gold fans, because in the early 1970s the television networks still broadcast NFL halftime shows rather than switching to other programming as they do today. It was the band’s first appearance on national television, with many more to come.