Knights Drum and Bugle Corps

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The Knights
LocationQuad Cities and Geneseo, Illinois
DivisionOpen Class, Class A, Div III
Championship titlesUS Open: 1980
Uniformcadet style jacket in purple and silver with a fuchsia cross on the chest, white pants and shoes, black shakoes with white plumes

The Knights Drum and Bugle Corps - known at different times as the Kewanee Black Knights, Geneseo Knights, or Quad City Knights[1] - was an American drum and bugle corps originally based in Kewanee, Illinois, and later in Geneseo, Illinois and the Quad Cities region of Illinois and Iowa. The corps was founded in the 1930s, and during the 1950s and 1960s frequently participated in national competitions. In 1965-66 it was re-established as a youth group. After this the corps went through several relocations and name changes, and despite further competitive success it became inactive in 1995.



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.

Kewanee Black Knights: 1951-1964[edit]

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.[2][3]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 youth group, the Black Knights junior corps, founded in the winter of 1965-66.[1]

Junior corps: 1965-1995[edit]

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, and 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. The corps was moved from Kewanee to Geneseo after the 1973 season. Costume changes during the show were introduced in 1979. 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 Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) finals, were 9th at Drum Corps International (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 again the Illinois State Fair.


  1. ^ a b Karls, Alan R. (2014). Racine's Horlick Athletic Field: Drums Along the Foundries. The History Press. p. 158. ISBN 9781625849809.
  2. ^ Henry County Illinois. Turner Publishing Company. 2000. p. 29. ISBN 9781563116650.
  3. ^ "Caballeros win drum corps contest". The Southeast Missourian. 3 September 1958.

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