I found out of the death of Marty Hurley with my October issue of Percussion News. I did not know him but did have the pleasure to learn of him and see his performance at the Drummer's Heritage Concert held at PASIC 2002 , in Columbus, Ohio.
I thought that this sad information might be important to the USARD membership (since many of you knew Hurley) and to those drummers that might stumble onto our web site.
Below is the memorial article from the Percussive Arts Society web site:
Martin E. Hurley
June 6, 1946 – September 12, 2011
By Lauren Vogel Weiss
Rudimental percussionist Martin E. (Marty) Hurley died on Sept. 12, 2011 at his home in New Orleans, Louisiana. He had suffered a stroke on Aug. 14 and spent several weeks at Tulane Medical Center.
Born on June 6, 1946 in Neptune, New Jersey, Marty Hurley followed in the footsteps of his father, who served as an Army drummer during World War II. Throughout his long career in both drum corps and as an award-winning music educator in Louisiana, Marty shared his talent and love of drumming with literally thousands of young drummers across the country.
At the age of seven, Hurley joined the O’Brien Major Police Cadets where most of the neighborhood kids marched at one time or another. Other corps he was involved with were the Neptune Shoreliners, Asbury Park Hurricanes, St. usard3eph Modernaires, Jersey Cyclones, the Blessed Sacrament Golden Knights (he aged out in 1967) and Hawthorne Caballeros (1968).
“Bobby Thompson taught Blessed Sacrament’s drum line,” Hurley told Modern Percussionist in a December 1984 interview, “He was one of the first people to come out and really teach the drum corps—he and Les Parks, who did the senior corps. My father always said that when I got old enough I should march in Blessed Sacrament, because that’s where I would really learn the correct rudimental grip—that left-hand traditional grip.” That Thompson grip, with the curled pinky and straight middle finger, became a signature of Hurley and all his students.
After graduating from Neptune High School, he attended Wilkes College (now Wilkes University) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, earning a music education degree. During that time he also played in community orchestras in Wilkes-Barre and nearby Scranton. Following graduation, he joined the Air Force Band and was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi for four years.
Hurley began his teaching career in 1971 when he assisted Dick Filkens, a former member of the Air Force Drum Quartet, with the Stardusters Drum Corps from Arabi, Louisiana. “I taught them all the stuff that Bobby had taught me, and it worked!” he told MP. In 1972, many of the members of the Stardusters joined the new Metairie, Louisiana-based Bleu Raeders drum corps, where Hurley served as the drum instructor for two years. In 1973, he joined the staff of the Black Knights from Belleville, Illinois, while continuing to teach the Bleu Raeders. He remained with the Black Knights until 1975.
In 1976, Hurley joined the staff of the corps for which he was best known: the Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps from Rockford, Illinois. “I just loved the Phantom Regiment’s horn line,” he recalled in the 1984 interview, “and I said, ‘Gee, I sure would like to write some drum parts to all that.’ It was fun because it was a real challenge to write to orchestral music.” Some of his classic solos for the Regiment include “Flight of the Bumblebee” and Grieg’s “March of the Dwarfs,” two of his favorites.
During his affiliation with the corps, the Phantom Regiment placed second in 1977, 1978, and 1979. He was also an integral part of the creative staff for the first two productions of the Khachaturian ballet “Spartacus” in 1981 and 1982. Hurley continued teaching the Regiment until 1983 before taking a few years off. He returned to the Rockford-based corps in 1987 and remained on their staff until 1992. In 2004, Hurley was inducted into the World Drum Corps Hall of Fame.
Hurley was also involved in the design of Ludwig’s High Volume (HV) snare drum, which the Regiment drum line used beginning in 1981. Similar to a regular marching snare drum, it had two inches cut from the middle of the shell, leaving the top half and bottom half joined by the tension casings. He told MP, “The HV drum came from trying to get a drum that would have a little more projection power—a little more clarity for a snare drum.”
In 1974, Hurley took a job that he would have for the rest of his life: band director at Brother Martin High School in New Orleans. He started as the assistant to longtime director Arthur Hardy, working with the marching band, stage band, and second concert band before he took over as the head director when Hardy resigned in 1989. Hurley’s final assistant director was Dominick Caronna, one of his former students at Brother Martin.
During his time at Brother Martin, Hurley’s ensembles consistently received superior ratings at local and regional contests and festivals. His bands performed for the Pope, two U.S. Presidents, two Louisiana governors, countless Mardi Gras parades and even the first-ever playoff game for his beloved New Orleans Saints football team.
Hurley was inducted into the Louisiana Music Educators Association (LMEA) Hall of Fame in 2010. “I never expected it,” he stated in a New Orleans Times-Picayune interview on November 18, 2010. “It’s a great honor. It brings everything to a peak.” During his time at Brother Martin High School, he had about 80 percussion students earn spots in one of the Louisiana All State ensembles.
Hurley also served as the percussion instructor at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana for several years in the 1980s. He judged the finals of the Marching Bands of America National Championship twice and also adjudicated the Percussive Arts Society’s Marching Forum (now the Marching Percussion Festival) four times, in 1982, 1988, 1994, and 1996.
As a percussion clinician, Hurley gave seminars at regional and national meetings of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), the National Catholic Band Association (NCBA) Conference, the LMEA Conference, the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) Convention, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC).
Hurley gave two clinics at PASIC with the Phantom Regiment drum line, in 1981 (Indianapolis, Indiana) and in 1988 (San Antonio, Texas). At PASIC ’92 in his adopted hometown of New Orleans, he served as the Coordinator for the Marching Forum held at the Superdome. At PASIC 2001 in Nashville, Tennessee, he taught a marching master class with John Pratt and Mitch Markovich. And at the Drummer’s Heritage Concert held at PASIC 2002 in Columbus, Ohio, Hurley was one of the featured snare drum soloists.
In addition to the drum corps and marching band music that he wrote, Hurley composed numerous snare drum solos and drum cadences that were published first by his own company—Rudimental Percussion Publications—and currently by Row-Loff Productions. He also taught marching percussion camps all across the country, including one sponsored by the Phantom Regiment in Rockford and another popular one at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.
John Wooton, Professor of Percussion and Director of Percussion Studies at USM, first met Hurley when John joined the Phantom Regiment. They have continued to work together over the years, including the founding of Rudimental Percussion Publications. “He always taught us to do what’s right. He never took shortcuts,” Wooton said in an August 28, 2011 article in the Times-Picayune. “He taught us that education was No. 1. It was more important than winning a trophy. You don’t see that too often these days.”
Dozens of Hurley’s former students, from both Brother Martin High School and the Phantom Regiment, as well as the other corps he taught over the years, have gone on to pursue careers in music. These men and women serve as college percussion instructors, high school and middle school band directors, private lesson teachers, and drum corps instructors. Shane Gwaltney, current caption head and arranger for the Phantom Regiment, posted the following message on Facebook: “I personally want to thank [Marty] for creating such an iconic program at PR that has allowed countless people to grow into better human beings. I am one of few that have the honor of holding the torch [he] lit, but there will only be one Marty Hurley.”
There have been hundreds of comments posted on Facebook regarding the impact that Marty Hurley had on his students during the past four decades. One Regiment alumni wrote, “As a brass player, I was always a bit envious of the rapport that he had with his drum line. I did get to know him through the years though and know why he is so loved.” And another former student said, “Your legacy to percussionists worldwide will never be forgotten.”
Marty Hurley is survived by his wife Paulette Purser and his brother and sister-in-law, Jimmy and Barbara Hurley.
Arthur Hardy contributed to this tribute.
Photo: Marty Hurley playing at the Drummer's Heritage Concert at PASIC 2002. Photo by Bryan Stone for PAS.
By Michael Quinn