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History and Stories

The history of the IOWA trail beat

The history of the IOWA trail beat.
– Paul Milano, 6-14-2023

It wasn’t named that because the corps first ever victory was in Dubuque, Iowa. A bass drummer in the corps named Wally Leffek was messing around at a rehearsal and created it prior to the 1966 season.  The guys liked it and the drum major told him to start using it as the trail beat to get us on and off the field.  It was used with three bass drummers.
It was subsequently adapted for four and then five bass drums in the late 70s.

The naming of it, as IOWA, happened due to two reasons.  First, it simply sounds like saying IOWA over and over.  It was also referred to as “The Flintstones” song, since it has the same rhythm and melody as the old 1960s cartoon of the same name (Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, meet the Flintstones, etc.).  And, it is sometimes called “Shoes in a dryer” since it jokingly sounds like shoes tumbling in a dryer.

But, back in the 60s, we also had a bus song that we sang from the Broadway musical “Oklahoma.”  It was the theme song for the play/movie and we would sing the melody only using the word Oklahoma repeated for each of the notes. So, instead of “Oklahoma where the wind blows gently on the plains” we would sing “Oklahoma, oklahoma, oklahoma, oak” just as a joke.  That prompted some of the guys to use the same thinking for the trail beat by simply repeating “Iowa” over and over to the melody of the bass drums.  Calling it Iowa began within a year or so after they started using it in 1966.  It was definitely in use as the name before the 1968 season (per Rich Gorske who joined the bass drum line that year and confirms it was already in use).

More info than you probably ever wanted, but there you have it!

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