The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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James Douglass Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Bob Schapper, Chris Petersen and Steve Matthes.

December 5, 2013


James Marlin Douglass was born in 1936 in Macomb, Illinois. His first exposure to music came through his father, a postmaster and director of the local municipal band. When James was 7, he attended a U.S. Navy Band concert and, not long after, made it his goal to join the Navy Band. During high school, he performed at over thirty concerts, was featured soloist many times and was chosen to be the first chair trumpet and soloist for the Illinois All-State High School Band and Symphony Orchestra.

At age 19, Douglass auditioned for the Navy Band, earning first chair trumpet and performing as trumpet soloist. Douglass served in the Navy from 1956 to 1960 before moving on to positions assisting or directing bands at the University of Denver and, later, Ohio University. Immediately prior to accepting a position at OSU, he was the Director of Bands at the University of the Pacific, Stockton. As director there, Douglass conducted the Pacific Pep Band at the 1967 NCAA Basketball Tournament in Corvallis.

Douglass was appointed Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands at Oregon State University in the fall of 1968. He was granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 1973 and later promoted to Professor in 1981. During his time leading the OSU Bands program, Douglass conducted or produced more than 140 football halftime shows in Corvallis and at numerous away games. In addition, the OSU Marching Band performed at several NFL games and also took a trip to Japan for the 1980 Mirage Bowl. Likewise, the OSU Symphonic Band toured Taiwan and Costa Rica under Douglass' leadership. Douglass is also the founder of the Northwest Band Camp, which serves 450 middle school students each summer. He retired from OSU in 1999.