In the 1970s, Hopkins was a percussionist in the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps. He aged out in 1978. In 1979, he joined the previously named Garfield Cadets as a percussion instructor. In 1982, at the age of 25, he became the director of the corps. His direction immediately led the Garfield Cadets to their first Drum Corps International World Championship title in 1983.
The Cadets would go on to win 8 more DCI World Championships under his direction, the most recent being "The Zone: Dreamscapes in Four Parts with Door" which is probably the most "out-there" show DCI has ever seen. as well as hundreds of other local, state and regional contests. Under his direction, The Cadets have become universally renowned as the winningest drum and bugle corps to take the field since the inception of competitive marching music.
The drum and bugle corps activity has been sharply divided throughout the past several decades between two distinguished factions, the traditionalists and the modernists. Traditionalists yearn for the post-WWII era, when drum and bugles corps were more known for Fourth of July and Memorial Day parades. Any field shows would include straight lines acorss the field, patriotic music and the mandatory inclusion of an American flag. Conversely, it was the modernists that brought about more exotic music repetoires, changed the judging system, and experimented with curvilinear and asymmetric drill.
Arguably, one of the earliest leaders and biggest proponents of the modernists was George Hopkins, a dominant source of controversy within the drum corps community. He has expressed his belief that the activity needs to change to survive, and has been instrumental in effecting rules changes within Drum Corps International such as the allowance of multi-keyed brass instruments and amplification.
- Drum Corps International, Recap — Eighty-Three, Dec 3, 2003.
- George Hopkins - 1997 DCI Hall of Fame - dci.org
Hop's Blog: Hopkins' personal journal