A group of Southern California drummers became honorary American Idols, performing with singer Taio Cruz during the show’s season finale on May 24, 2001.
Tama snare drums were rigged with clear Remo drumheads and radio-controlled color lights on the top and bottom of the drums. Performers wore jumpsuits with lights sewn on and used Lite Stix LED Drumsticks from Vic Firth.
“It’s the first time I’ve been a part of a gig or a show where we had lasers, smoke, movement and the LED lights inside of the drums and on the drum sticks,” says Dan Wahl, one of the featured performers. “Everyone I talked to was blown away by how great it looked. We took that level of percussion entertainment to a new level.”
Cruz, best known for last summer’s party anthem “Dynamite,” debuted a new song, “Positive,” with lyrics written by American Idol fans in an online contest. Although his microphone cut out during the performance, the drummers continued their complex choreography, unfazed.
“We all kind of heard that sound cut out, but we had been so focused, and everything was blocked perfectly, so we couldn’t fail,” Wahl says. “It’s typical in drum corps, so we learned all the counts and movements, and it was kind of failsafe.”
Most of the 12 drummers, handpicked by Drum Corps International Hall of Famer and Tama Drums consultant Tom Float, have marched with Riverside Community College (RCC) or top drum corps such as The Blue Devils (BD) and Santa Clara Vanguard. Wahl, a performer at the Disneyland Resort, is a BD alum and has taught at RCC and Pacific Crest. Although he has performed for TV and films before, he cites this Idol performance as one of his favorites.
“We got to interact a lot with Taio; he was very easy to work with,” Wahl says. “We also got to spend a lot of time with David Cook and his band, and when we were backstage we ran into Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez; it was cool.”