Just as with any business, there is a history. Where it all started, how it started and how it became who they are today. Long before the first "Welcome to Cooper Music" ever chimed the ears of a piano buyer, the history of the Cooper Family began. For the next few months, I will share with you, every Friday a special blog, containing the history of the Cooper family and creation of Cooper Music. We hope that you enjoy reading as Cooper Music is brought to life with memories.
THE SOUSA MARINE BAND STORY
BY BROTHER DONALD COOPER
In the 1920s one of the best known Victor Red Seal Record celebrities was John Phillip Sousa and the U.S, Marine Band, The Cooper Music Minstrels had been able to sell out several concerts to raise money selling Liberty Bonds during World War I, the “War to End All Wars," John Cooper was sure he could do it again, with Sousa’s Marine Band. Through Victrola Phonographs, Cooper Music, as one of their prize wining stores, gained access to their artist. A local performance of Sousa’s band was set- up. But there was a challenge,
The Sousa contract demanded a large cash guarantee to RCA, requiring a “sell out” at the Liberty Theatre, to just break even. Days later it was announced that the Heavy Weight Championship Fight between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey was to be broadcast on KDKA radio the very same night of the concert. A World’s First! What to do?
The Cooper’s radio technician, “Wink” Winslow Neely, a former wartime Merchant Marine wireless radio operator, was convinced that the fight could be piped across the street from Cooper Music to the Liberty Theatre stage on telephone wire lines. With his helper they started setting up the circuit. The concert with the fight, that too would be a first. The tickets sold out like wild fire.
The night of the concert the Band started as usual with the Washington Post March, On The Mall, and Colonel Bogey March. Then John Cooper stepped out and said, “We have a promise to keep, we want to share the fight between former Marine Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey." John Cooper turned to the orchestra and said, “Gentlemen!." The Band stood as one, in a silent salute, then took off their waistcoats, hung them on their chairs and sat back to listen to the radio broadcast. That brought down the house, and the cheering continued till the final gong.. What a night.
The Tunney, Dempsey fight was one of the most famous Boxing Matches in history, known as the famous “Long Count”, with the Champion, former Marine, Gene Tunney! The Sousa Band stood up, now in their full dress, red and blue, Marine waistcoats. Sousa’s musical salute “Sempre Fideles" (Always Faithful ), the Marine Hymn closed the show for the cheering crowd!
After the concert there were autographs, David Cooper’s mother received a personal autograph from John Phillip Sousa, which Cooper Music has kept to this day. As years went by it always meant something special when, even now, a Hohner “Marine Band Harmonica” is sold with the photo of the famous band on the box.