Building the Green Machine is the biography of corps founder Don Warren and a comprehensive history of the Cavaliers. Colt Foutz, a former reporter and columnist at the Naperville (Ill.) Sun, spent two years interviewing Warren and 200 current and former Cavaliers, as well as fans, family, volunteers and drum corps leaders, to produce a decade-by-decade look at the brotherhood and musicianship that have sparked the corps to twenty national and world championships since 1948.|
The book follows the corps’ origins as a Chicago Boy Scout troop and subsequent rise to prominence in the 1950s. The corps’ dominance in the 1960s is seen through the eyes of members and the influence of talented instructors, including Sal Ferrera, Frank Arsenault, Larry McCormick and Lenny Piekarski. Warren and members share stories from the road and competition, and explain traditions such as the corps’ uniforms and colors, initiations, The Corps Song, Standing Man and “the board.”
Warren explains his decision to recruit four other corps directors to form the Midwest Combine in 1971, which morphed into Drum Corps International the following year, ending the influence of the American Legion and VFW on drum corps. The book follows the Cavaliers through the tumultuous 1970s and their decision to disband in 1981, just months after Warren suffered a life-threatening heart attack. The corps’ miracle resurgence, made possible by sponsorship from the Village of Rosemont and a new crop of talented instructors, led by Steve Brubaker and Jeff Fiedler, carries the Cavaliers to seven DCI championships since 1992 and a return to the forefront of the activity. The book concludes with a look behind the scenes on tour in summer 2005 and a reflection on Warren’s legacy.