- The corps was formed in 1965 by the Pembroke VFW Post.
- The corps competed up to the 1977 season but disbanded prior to the DCI championships that year.
- The corps reformed in 2003 as an "all age" Mini-Corps and Senior Drum Corps.
THE IMPERIALS HISTORY
The Imperials of Pembroke were organized in 1965 by the Pembroke Post of the VFW, under the direction of William McSharry, Norman Robadeau, and Joseph Metzger. This young drum and bugle corps spent their first year learning music and how to march, while participating in a few local parades. They hired a young instructional staff and acquired equipment and inexpensive uniforms.
The Corps joined the Eastern Mass. Drum and Bugle Corps Circuit for the 1966 competition season, as a Class C unit. Their first contest was in Norwood, where their strong efforts earned them a fourth place finish. The following week-end they competed in Rockland, where they took third place and brought home their very first trophy. The Imperials qualified for the Class C finals that first season, and were moved up to Class AII for the following year.
During the next two competitive seasons, the Imperials developed into a top Class AII unit, and in September of 1968 they won the Eastern Mass. Circuit Class AII Championship. The following spring, the town of Pembroke honored the Imperials for their achievements in their first "Youth Day", which become an annual event.
The corps was moved to Class AI for the 1969 competition season. The Imperials of Pembroke became a "household word" in local drum corps circles. Progressing rapidly, the 1970 competition season saw the Imperials place second in both the Eastern Mass. Class AI standings and the finals. They competed in some local invitations that year, finishing 17th in the World Open Preliminaries, and won the American Legion State Championship. At this point, Mr. McSharry decided it was time to introduce the Imperials to the nation.
In 1971, the corps competed only in open shows and invitationals. They traveled in August to Dallas, Texas for the VFW Nationals, where they placed 17th out of a total of 35 corps. That year at the World Open Preliminaries, the Imperials placed 19th.
The Imperials joined the Mayflower State Drum and Bugle Corps Circuit for the 1972 season, and have benefited by their association with this fine circuit since that time. This season the corps won the American Legion State Championship and Junior Color Guard Championship, and the Mayflower Circuit Class A Championship. They traveled to Whitewater, Wisconsin for the first D.C.I. Championship, where they placed 17th. Other achievements for the corps that year were, C.Y.O. Nationals -- 10th; World Open Finalist - 19th place; VFW Nationals Finalist, Chicago, IL, 7th place.
1973 saw the Imperials rise to national prominence in the drum corps world. The corps traveled to New Orleans, LA, where they won the VFW National Championship, while also winning the Silver Drum Trophy for the highest drum score. Locally, they won the American Legion State Championship and the Mayflower Circuit Championship, while placing as finalist in the D.C.I. East competition and the World Open, taking 5th place in the latter show.
1973 was the year the corps traveled to Canada to compete in three competitions. They made the first two shows, but had to back out of the third due to fifty corps members with food poisoning. The corps spent an entire night at Hamilton City Hospital, after eating at a "hamburger specialty house".
In 1974 the Imperials traveled throughout the East and Midwest. They won the opening invitational in Weymouth and then went to a bigger invitational at Troy, N.Y., where they placed 3rd. The corps placed as finalist in D.C.I. East - 7th, World Open -- 9th and the VFW Nationals in Chicago - 2nd. They were invited to the C.Y.O. Nationals, placing 10th. The Imperials won the VFW State Championship and the Mayflower Circuit Class A Championship and were the undisputed top corps in New England that year, as they bested powerhouse corps such as the 27th Lancers, Cardinals, Boston Crusaders and St. Francis Sancians.
1974 was also the year the corps hosted the Anaheim, CA Kingsmen; traveled to Ithaca, N.Y. for the D.C.I. Championship; became the "Imperial Cadets" by joining brass with the Garfield Cadets at a great impromptu show in Ithaca; combined forces with the "Eastern Power" at the D.C.I. Finals; and appeared in new uniforms, while playing the "Big Band Sound".
1975 would be best characterized as a rebuilding season. The corps fielded a smaller edition in 1975, as there were many staff changes and the original membership -who had grown up with the corps- were aging out. The corps turned to show tunes this year, including selections from Mame and Man of Lamancha, and appeared in the CYO Nationals, World Open Prelims and finished 39th at the DCI Nationals.
In 1976 the corps rebounded with new energy, thanks mostly to an infusion of new talent drawn from the Imperials Jrs., and some talented staff editions such as John Powers on brass and Al Doran on color guard. The corps came out with a new style (departing from the Big Band sound of before, and the show tunes in 1975), playing selections such as Stan Kenton’s Malaga, Trepak, from the Nutcracker Suite and McArthur Park. This year, the corps solidified with a late season surge and passed the powerful new corps: North Star, at the VFW Nationals in NYC, by finishing 9th.
After a strong 1976 season, Director, Arthur “Artie” Richards and the rest of management decided it was time for another big competitive push in 1977. The solidified staff from “76” advised that the visual program should be enriched and the preeminent Californian shows designers: Mike Moxley and Peter Emmons were hired to write the visual show. These two gentlemen were at the cutting edge of show coordination. They were partially responsible for the Blue Devils’ and Santa Clara Vanguard’s success. Through their influence the Imperials got a makeover -both in show and in uniform. The show design was cutting edge and the traditional cranberry, grey and off-white in the uniform was changed to cranberry, black and satin white to imitate the style of many California corps of the day. The corps started out strong and was starting to do well competitively until regrettably, a financial collapse befell the corps and the 1977 Denver tour had to be canceled.
Epitaph: The unfortunate financial collapse of 1977 caused a great internal disillusionment within the organization. That crisis would initiate the process of the demise of the proud Imperials. This is a fate not uncommon to many other drum corps. The 1977 season was the last for the original Imperials. The Imperials Jrs., continued on for five more years and eventually became the new Imperials, but did not survive past 1982.
2002, A New Beginning!
After a hugely successful Imperials reunion in the summer of 2002, The Imperials Alumni decided to become an organization once again. A new Imperials Board of Directors was formed in October of 2002 and the board raised money and promoted the concept of a new Imperials. The Imperials Board of Directors reported a successful Open House on December 14th, 2003.
In 2004 the Imperials finally "hit the street" on July 4th, 2004, at the Hingham 4th of July Parade. The corps also managed to appear in the Beverly, MA Holiday Parade to close out the season.
In 2005 the corps performed at their first competition at the DCA 2005 Mini Corps Competition, in Scranton, PA on September 2.
In 2007 the corps performed at the DCA 2007 Mini Corps Competition, in Rochester, NY on August 31, appearing in new uniforms.
The Pembroke Imperials (AKA The Imperials Drum & Bugle Corps of the South Shore) are presently active as an "all age" Mini-Corps and Senior Drum Corps. They are currently based out of Abington, Massachusetts.