Bizzare things about Eastern: The kazoo band

In 1977 Eastern’s men’s soccer team made the national championship. So did the college’s kazoo band. Void of a marching band and desiring to create some fun at the halftime of soccer games, a group of guys got together and began what became known as the kazoo band.

“A couple of us in the crowd thought, why waste the opportunity to provide the crowd with some halftime entertainment,” said Tom Ridington, senior vice president and former kazoo band member. “We didn’t have a music or dance program back then so we had to improvise.”

The kazoo band would also dress up in bath robes, wigs and capes, “probably to get people’s minds off our terrible music,” Ridington said.

They would parade around the field, sometimes in formation. One popular formation was the initials of Eastern at the time: EC. Almost all of the bands performances included football-inspired huddles where they would decide what to do next, since most of what they did was unplanned.

Bruce Buell, a ’79 graduate of Eastern, was considered one of the kazoo bands founding fathers. “I think as many as three dozen guys were involved in it at any given time,” Buell recalls.

One of the neat things about the band, according to Buell, was that it was comprised of all sorts of people. Most of the band members were from Guffin, according to Ridington. The members used to get together and watch Monday Night Football, which Ridington and Buell assume gave them the idea to start the band.

Buell remembers performing a bicentennial salute in the gymnasium one night at halftime of a basketball game. Buell dressed up as the Statue of Liberty wearing a choir robe, a Burger King crown and holding a newspaper. The other band members got down on one knee around Buell and played “Star Spangled Banner.” At the end of the rendition, Buell took off his robe to reveal a Philadelphia Flyers jersey and proceeded to sing “God Bless America.”

The kazoo band fizzled out with time. Considering the popularity it once received, something of the same sort may come about again someday. “I would think that 30 years later maybe there would be different instruments [students] would choose,” Ridington said.

Ridington and Buell consider memories of the kazoo band some of their fondest from college.

“Could we do a reunion tour some day?” Buell suggests. “That would be fun.”

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