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Knights Drum and Bugle Corps

The Knights
Location Quad Cities and Geneseo, Illinois
Division Open Class, Class A, Div III
Founded 1965
Folded 1995
Director (inactive)
Championship titles US Open: 1980
Uniform cadet style jacket in purple and silver with a fuchsia cross on the chest, white pants and shoes, black shakoes with white plumes


The history of the Knights began with a boy's fife and drum corps formed in the 1930s sponsored by the American Legion Post in Kewanee, Illinois. Within a short time the fifes were replaced by bugles and the S.A.L. (Sons of American Legion) Junior Drum and Bugle Corps was formed. That corps competed actively through 1942 when World War II took most of the members.

After the war, interest in drum corps began again and veterans of the SAL corps returning from the war formed a senior corps in 1949. With the help of the Kewanee American Legion, the corps raised money for instruments and new uniforms and in 1951 the name Kewanee Black Knights was chosen. The Black Knights became a familiar corps on the state and national scene from 1951 to 1964. In addition to many local championships, the Black Knights finished in the American Legion National finals (top 12) every year from 1954 through 1961. When the senior group disbanded in 1964, the name and traditions were passed to a new group that was formed to provide an activity for the youth of the community.

In the winter of 1965-66, the Black Knights junior corps was born. The corps became successful early on, making the finals contest in the 1966 Illinois State Fair competition. The Black Knights of Kewanee dropped the Black from their name in 1972. The corps was moved from Kewanee to Geneseo after the 1973 season. In 1980 the corps won a national title at the US Open in Marion, Ohio. In 1983 the Corps was marching 122 members and was recognized as a viable competitor. They placed third in DCM finals, were 9th at DCI regional prelims in Whitewater, and also came in among the leaders at DCI East in Allentown, Pa. It was decided to move the Corps to the Quad Cities in 1989. In 1991, The Knights merged with the Emerald Knights of Cedar Rapids Iowa, an experiment that lasted only one season. The Knights went inactive in 1995, their last competition being the Illinois State Fair, the site of their first competition 29 years earlier in 1966.


1972: Knights were the first corps to abandon the traditional cadet uniform in favor of a "uniform costume" that depicted the name of the corps as well as the music they were playing in their program. They adopted a uniform consisting of a knight's tunic with a cross and a robin hood hat and played selections from the musical Camelot. Several years later the Cavaliers and Phantom Regiment both followed suit and adopted uniforms more in keeping with their name. This was also one of the first "theme shows" where the name, music and marching drill all carried a unified story.

1979: prior to a number called "Slavanic Dance" four of their guard girls disappeared into the percussion section and reappeared in full Hungarian costumes and danced to the music. They went back into the percussion section to change back into their guard uniforms while the show continued and many times the audience was not aware where they went. Costume changes like this are done frequently now.

1984: In one of the last productions of the show, they featured a boy (Doug Atkins, Peoria, Illinois)and girl(Jill Johnson, Pekin, Illinois) from the guard in a solo dance number.

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