After several seasons, Wayne became more attracted to a drum and bugle corps in nearby Smithton, New York, primarily because their horns had a valve and a slide. He marched with the Smithtown Freelancers in 1966, 1967, and 1968. In 1969, his senior year in high school, Wayne marched in the Long Island Sunrisers Senior Drum and Bugle Corps as one of their soprano soloists.
At the same time his father, who was an elementary school principal, interviewed for and accepted a job in California, which required relocation. The family departed during the summer of 1969, leaving Wayne behind to march with the Sunrisers.
Wayne planned on finishing out the season with the Sunrisers and taking advantage of a music scholarship offered to him by Florida State University. However, midway through the summer, Wayne decided it was best to join his parents in California. "After all, great weather is great weather no matter which coast you soak it up on." With this in mind, he elicited the help of friends (including Dave Shaw, Editor of Drum Corps Digest) to locate any drum and bugle corps on the West coast. Wayne was informed of a three-year old corps located in Santa Clara, California called the Santa Clara Vanguard. Ironically, his parents had moved just one block away from the home of the Vanguard's corps director, Gail Royer. Wayne marched soprano bugle with Vanguard during the end of the 1969 season, and all of 1970-72.
In 1971, Santa Clara's brass instructor Jack Meehan left the corps. Jack was replaced as brass instructor by Wayne (one of the soprano soloists in the corps) and Scott Pierson (an "age out" from the previous season), led by Gail Royer as music director and arranger.
Wayne "aged out" in 1972. During that season, the professional relationship between Wayne and Gail had soured and Wayne was politely "relieved of his responsibilities" as brass instructor at the end of the season.
In 1973, Wayne instructed the reigning World Champion Anaheim Kingsmen, and the Stockton Commodores. He was teaching the Commodores on Tuesday evenings, and then flying down to Los Angeles on Wednesdays to teach the Kingsmen. During the winter months, Wayne drove to LA every weekend to instruct the Kingsmen and finally moved to LA in the summer. After the drum corps season was completed, Wayne moved back to San Francisco to complete his last year of undergraduate work at nearby San Jose State University.
Meanwhile, the position for San Jose State's marching band director became available and Wayne interviewed for the job "just for the hell of it". The next day, San Jose State University Band Director and undergraduate student Wayne Downey met his secretary, moved into his office, and prepared for next season. For the next two years Wayne wrote the drill and the music, directed one of the jazz/pep bands, and taught a marching band techniques class. During his first week as band director, Wayne received a telephone call from Jerry Seawright, the director of the De Concord Blue Devils. Jerry expressed interest in having Wayne teach the Blue Devils. Wayne reluctantly agreed to help audition We new people for the corps' 1974 season. "There was this for incredible magnetic energy that drew me into the organization" says Wayne of his first visit to Concord. At that time, Jim Ott was the brass instructor and arranger for the Blue Devils. Wayne and Jim were already good friends from their times together instructing the Commodores and marching in the Vanguard. Ultimately, Wayne decided to take the job as brass instructor with the Blue Devils.
In 1974, the Blue Devils improved their placement at DCI Nationals from 24th to 9th place. The next year, from 9th to 3rd, and the corps took their first DCI Title in 1976, the quickest three year ascent in DCI history. Wayne was now twenty-five years old.
After graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in secondary music education, Wayne opted to work full-time for gal the Concord Blue Devils and has been there ever since.
Today, Wayne Downey has reached "icon" status in the drum corps community. He has enriched drum corps and high school and college marching bands throughout the world with his instructional techniques and carefully crafted musical arrangements. He continues to arrange, adjudicate, and instruct, and he still somehow manages to make time to consult and conduct clinics for Yamaha Music Corporation of America.
Wayne Downey Discography Tracks
Writing & Arrangement
|JP-2500||Various||Jubilant Prelude and 5 more… Various - Marching Band '82 (LP, Comp, Promo)||Jenson Publications Inc.||JP-2500||US||1982||Sell This Version|
|FSRCD-1368||Ohio State University Marching Band*||Cuban Fire (Los Suente De Los Tantos) (as Downey) Ohio State University Marching Band* - Chimes And Change (CD, Album)||Fidelity Sound Recordings||FSRCD-1368||US||1994||Sell This Version|
|none||Concord Blue Devils*, Santa Clara Vanguard||Hindi/Finale and 1 more… Concord Blue Devils*, Santa Clara Vanguard - State of the Art (CD)||Drum Corps International||none||USA & Canada||1998||Sell This Version|
|09026-63723-2||Various||Various - Blast: An Explosive Musical Experience (CD, Album)||RCA Victor||09026-63723-2||US||2000||Sell This Version|
|none||The Blue Devils*||New York Fantasy and 1 more… The Blue Devils* - Through The Years 80s (2xCD, RM)||The Blue Devils||none||US||2004||Sell This Version|