Guy Sues Over 'Da Da Da Da Da Da.... CHARGE!' Jingle He Might Not Have Written

from the da-da-da-da-da-da....-SUE! dept

A few different folks sent over variations on this story about how a guy named Bobby Kent claims to have come up with the now ubiquitous "da da da da da da... CHARGE!" music in 1978. If you've been to a major sporting event in the US in the past few decades, you've almost certainly heard it. You can finds tons of examples on YouTube, but here's a decent one:
Kent apparently was the musical director for the San Diego Chargers football team in 1978, and claims he came up with (and registered a copyright for) the song "Stadium Doo Dads," which apparently includes the same notes, though I cannot find a full version of the song anywhere to compare. Either way, Kent is now suing ASCAP for not paying him royalties for all the stadiums playing those six notes, and that he intends to sue every professional sports team in the US, with the exception of the Los Angeles Lakers, who coughed up $3,000 when he sent them a letter.

You can see the full lawsuit against ASCAP embedded below in all its glory. Of course, it does raise questions about whether or not these six simple notes really rise to the level of creativity required for a copyright. But, even if you accept that, there's another (big) problem. For years, it's been claimed that the true originator of the "da da da da da da... CHARGE!" concept was a dude named Tommy Walker, who was both a drum major and the field kicker for the USC Trojans in the late 1940s and claims to have come up with the basic jingle in 1946. Of course, others point out that, it's really built on an old calvary bugle call, with some reports pointing to a German WWI army manual that has the same six notes listed as number 20 "Battery." Others have pointed out that the (newly moved from Brooklyn) LA Dodgers picked up on using the charge call from USC in 1958 and it spread from there.

All of that history certainly calls into serious question the legitimacy of Kent's overall claims. When asked about this, Kent's lawyer says that the two songs have a different tempo:
Kent's attorney acknowledged that the USC song "does contain five notes that are close to the last five notes of the crescendo of Mr. Kent's song." But, he said, the notes are played at a different tempo.
In the end... I'm sorta left with the simple question: what kind of system do we have when there's now going to be legal fights over the "Charge!" jingle?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Kent's attorney acknowledged that the USC song "does contain five notes that are close to the last five notes of the crescendo of Mr. Kent's song." But, he said, the notes are played at a different tempo.

    Isn't the whole point of that jingle that the tempo isn't fixed, but gradually increases until the end? I'm not sure the basic musical concept of accelerando deserves a copyright...

     

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  2.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    Re:

    CLEARLY YOU ARE NOT A CONTENT CREATOR WHO HAS THEIR WORKS STOLEN ALL THE TIME!*

    *nah, just getting that argument out of the way now.

     

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  3.  
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    Sanity Challenged (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Funny, but I recall playing this tune in high school at our local football games.
    We called it the 'Tuba Charge' because we tuba players usually started it.
    Strangely, I don't recall seeing the plaintiff there in 1974 or 1975 when we played at it every home game here in Gloversville, NY.

     

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  4.  
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    The Libertarian, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Question, wouldn't the Chargers own the copyright if there is one, as this Mr. Kent worked for them, and most likely had a contract that said anything he makes for this job is thiers?

    And say this gets tossed on some grounds by the judge, does that make the 3,000 from the Lakers, extorsion?

     

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  5.  
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    A Dan (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Ah yes

    I first heard about this on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me from last weekend. I certainly didn't think this one was the true story.

     

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  6.  
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    Wiggs (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Am I wrong, or was this "jingle" not a fairly common part of old Looney Tunes cartoons from the '40s and '50s? Whenever I hear those particular notes mentioned, I always hear Daffy Duck screaming 'CHARGE!' at the end... which most definitely predates this schmuck's claims.

    Maybe he didn't watch Looney Tunes as a kid?

     

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  7.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:07am

    Re:

    >>I'm not sure the basic musical concept of accelerando deserves a copyright...

    It probably doesn't, but I bet you could get a patent on it.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    More importantly writing the the LA Lakers a letter claiming copyright over something might net you $3000! I'm gonna be rich!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    Re:

    You should claim copyright over "The Wave".

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:13am

    Desperate times for a desperate nation.

     

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  11.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    Question, wouldn't the Chargers own the copyright if there is one, as this Mr. Kent worked for them, and most likely had a contract that said anything he makes for this job is thiers?

    Not likely in those days. Copyright wasn't quite the lottery-ticket-hoarding institution that it is today.

     

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  12.  
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    Kiwini, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Re: Too little, far too late

    I did the same thing at my HS football games in the late 60's. It's recorded on several reels of 8mm home film that's still in my posession, so my "proof" pre-dates Bobby's by the better part of a decade.

    Who do I see about getting ?my" money?....

     

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  13.  
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    Greg G (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    da da da DA da da... SUE!

     

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  14.  
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    AG Wright (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Trumpet players

    OK I played trumpet in Jr. High and high school back in the 60's and early 70's. We played stuff like that all the time. It's sort of implicit in the instrument since those types of bugle calls are all played on one fingering.
    Some people have more nerve than brains.

     

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  15.  
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    DH's Love Child (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, the University of Washington beat you to it. :)

     

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  16.  
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    Ron (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    I seem to remember a Flintstones Episode where Wilma gets a credit card and they go da da da da da da Charge It!!. Wouldn't that be prior art as well?

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    And didn't the Flintstones take place in prehistoric times? That's some serious prior art there.

    Wait, wait, wait... This just gave me an idea. I have DNA proof that I'm a direct descendant of early humans, and since they invented fire I'm gonna be filthy rich.

    Pay up, all you lazy food-cooking bastards!

     

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  18.  
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    TS.Atomic (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:41am

    Re:

    I was going to say the same thing. I want to say I remember it used quite a few times in the old Looney-Tunes cartoons.

     

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  19.  
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    Steven (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Re: Trumpet players

    I was going bring this up as well. I also played trumpet and this was one of the 'standard' bugle calls.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re:

    I was thinking the exact same thing. My next business venture is sending people letters claiming I have a copyright on something.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re:

    This is why I only eat raw food. I knew someone was going to do that.

    Patent a method of raising the temperature of food to levels safe for human consumption. Would be as good as patenting a method for swinging.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2F netahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=5&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=6368227& ;OS=6368227&RS=6368227

     

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  22.  
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    Joseph K (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    In the Flintstones

    Here's a link to a 1960 episode of the Flintstones using the bugle call and "charge."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZsWd2ke-I4#t=10m50s

    The sports illustrated piece you linked to, also says there were toy bugles sold by the Dodgers in 1959 that played the tune. I'm sure they could dig up even earlier hard evidence to hopefully completely trounce this guy's copyright claim.

     

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  23.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Goes 'way back

    That musical figure can be heard in "March of the Toys", an instrumental in Victor Herbert's operetta "Babes in Toyland", immortalized in 1934 as a Laurel & Hardy film, but composed originally in 1903 for the stage. Both of which dates are before 1978, I think. Of course, having added the word "Charge!", I think he's entitled to every penny for his hard work and ingenuity.

     

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  24.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    In the end... I'm sorta left with the simple question: what kind of system do we have when there's now going to be legal fights over the "Charge!" jingle?

    I'm not sure how one person's legal claims calls into question the whole legal system. People make all sorts of stupid claims in every branch of law, not just copyright.

     

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  25.  
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    Charles, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Charge

    That is older than I am. I played that in college in 1966, so did all the opposing times.

    This guy is clueless.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re:

    I third this recollection, not only from Looney Tunes cartoons but also...gah...memory leak...

    Dudley DoRight in the 60s? Or something similar.

    Three Stooges shorts also? Maybe?

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Re: Re:

    I'm surprised it's not a bona fide scam already...oh wait...

    Hi, Righthaven!

     

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  28.  
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    HarryMonmouth, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 11:45am

    Re: Re:

    Go ahead, I have a global copyright on that form of business so you will have to pay me a royalty. :)

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Da Da Da Da, Da Da - PUPPY POWER!

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Re:

    If it were just one person I would agree with you...but we have new stories every day with this kind of bullshit.

     

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  31.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    MUSIC IS STOLEN!!

    If tempo made the difference between copyrights then there is a big issue. Every song made over the last 2 decades or more (I am being kind) was derived from Blues rifts. They usually play in a different key and/or tempo but the rift is the same. This means every rock song EVER was STOLEN and RIAA owes BAJILLIONS to the dead bluse bands...then again, bluse was created off other musical types. So in reality, assuming this claim is reality, everyone owes 9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999.91 gabjillion dollars to the person who first hit a rock with a stick.

     

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  32.  
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    Theoden, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Even Dr. Pepper used it

    Go to http://www.bestoldcommercials.com/the-dr-pepper-difference-jingle/ for a jingle from the '60s that will get stuck in your head and predates Binky the Songwriter's copyright claim. Maybe even predates the Flintstones!

     

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  33.  
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    Huph, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re:

    So? I can point you to hundreds--maybe thousands--of cases of people abusing self-defense laws. What's the point? Should we not allow imminent danger as a legal defense?

    There are thousands of cases of murderers abusing mental defect laws, should they be eliminated?

    Some cops abuse their authority to write tickets, or to to physically thrash a person. Should we outlaw police protection in general?

    All laws are taken advantage of. Should they all be called into further question?

     

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  34.  
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    Huph, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Let me rephrase that: "All laws are taken advantage of. Should they all be repealed?"

    Because I think that all laws should be questioned. Nothing should just be accepted.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That would be a patented business method. I have several patents dealing with posting in a public forum and we can just trade licenses so that you can continue posting here.

     

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  36.  
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    jenningsthecat (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Flintstones - that's just spooky!

    When I read this story, I also was immediately reminded of that Flintstones episode - I even thought of it as 'prior art' as you did, although that concept only applies to patents AFAIK. So it was a strange experience reading your comment...

    And in the spirit of Bobby Kent, I think I thought of the Flintstones angle first, and I claim copyright on it! Expect a C+D from the law offices of Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe...

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If a law is causing serious harm to our economy then I would say it's time to take a good hard look at that law and if it is needed.

     

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  38.  
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    DogBreath, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Re:

    Even Scrappy-Doo is gonna get sued.

     

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  39.  
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    DogBreath, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

    Re: MUSIC IS STOLEN!!

    Then the RIAA had better get ready to pay Gunga's ancestors a s-load of money (after they foolishly increase copyright terms one step too far, and you know they will one day)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnwOE_44D9M

     

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  40.  
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    Richard (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Re: MUSIC IS STOLEN!!

    Every song made over the last 2 decades or more (I am being kind) was derived from Blues rifts.
    Except the ones that rip off Pachelbel's Canon, which is pretty much all of them....

    If his copyright hadn't expired = and if he was still alive - Pachelbel would be very very rich indeed!

     

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  41.  
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    aldestrawk (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    A different tempo, really?

    The Grateful Dead play(ed) their songs at different tempos all the time. Then, when they hear the tapes after they've come down, they try to sue themselves for infringement. The judge always dismisses this early on but not because a different tempo means it's a different song.

     

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  42.  
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    Any Mouse (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The difference with all of your examples and this is that your examples all have serious legal ramifications if they are caught. The only thing this guy loses is some money to the lawyers. Other than looking like an idiot, that is.

    Things like this should be charged with fraud with some jail time attached.

     

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  43.  
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    RussK, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Really??!!!

    I played these 6 notes at my High School as the lead trumpet in 1967. Ask anyone who attended Rogers H. S. in Toledo. Totally worthless suit.

     

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  44.  
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    RussK (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:34pm

    Really??!!!

    I played these 6 notes at my High School as the lead trumpet in 1967. Ask anyone who attended Rogers H. S. in Toledo. Totally worthless suit.

     

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  45.  
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    RussK (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    Re:

    More importantly, there would be a copyright held by Warner Brothers which negates any later claim I would think.

     

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  46.  
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    bdhoro (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:08pm

    ...Same system

    "In the end... I'm sorta left with the simple question: what kind of system do we have when there's now going to be legal fights over the "Charge!" jingle?"

    The same system where nobody is actually allowed to sing "Happy Birthday" because it was bought by Warner even though the Wikipedia entry states the composition and melody were copied from an earlier song. Not only that but the combination of words and melody to make the Happy Birthday Song were printed and likely played in the early 1900's before anybody copyrighted it.

    Da da Da da da Happy Birthday!

     

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  47.  
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    slander (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:19pm

    Charger football?

    Actually, I'm more disappointed that you said the Chargers are a football team. After living in San Diego since 1984, I can assure that the only San Diego team called the Chargers plays volleyball, especially toward the end of the season...

     

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  48.  
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    AW, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Re: MUSIC IS STOLEN!!

    That was great thanks for that!

     

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  49.  
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    Buckwally, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    US Cavalry Bugle Call

    I believe that the US Cavalry used this going back a century or more

     

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  50.  
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    MGraham (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    "Charge" Music

    One of the proudest Father-Son moments I had with my dad was back when he bought me a boy scout bugle so I could play the 6 notes leading up to "Charge" at the home games of the Kansas City Chiefs in their first years in Kansas City. This had to have been 1964-66, and I KNOW I wasn't the first to play it. Maybe the fellow has rights to a particular arrangement -- but it can't be of the notes. Da-da-da-daa-da-daaaaa-CHARGE!

    Michael R.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Keith, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    I remember hearing it on the Flintstones, circa 1965. Wilma and Betty would yell "da da da da Charge IT!" before going on a shopping spree.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2013 @ 8:20pm

    dadadadadadadadadadadadada

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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