"War Horses of the Chorus" Series, No. 4: Doug Maddox
Kirt Thiesmeyer, Aug 14, 2007
(No. 4 in an erratic series preserving the history of the Masters of Harmony and highlighting the contributions of illustrious members most in need of preservation.)
Doug Maddox, the only living member of the Masters of Harmony Hall of Fame that is still on the risers, has been honored so much by almost everyone, it is gilding the lily to call him a “war horse.” He is the Original Dobbin. Six gold medals with MOH and one earned with The Vocal Majority, Doug’s 34 years in barbershopping have made him famous far beyond his humble origins in Redlands, California, by way of the Pasadena Chapter, where he actually served as music director, followed by Atlanta, Detroit and Dallas. He is but a year away from being designated a Golden Oldie, which his youth and vigor [that’ll be $5 per word, Doug] belie.
Finding the VM to be insufficiently ambitious (just kidding, if Dan Fullerton and Jim Clancy are reading this), Doug joined the Masters in 1988 and immediately made his home in the back row center of the risers, with the other giants. He has endured every tenor insult with good will and has often been seen wiping away the tears of his section mates and advising them on their wardrobe.
A longtime project manager with Unisys Corporation (formerly Burroughs), Doug’s education in data processing at Cal Poly Pomona equipped him to rise from punch card operations to the airy-fairy theoretical cyberspeak of software engineering. Perhaps three people in the chorus understood him, so Doug switched to production director, and is the only one MOH has ever known. He generously shares his expertise with others to produce successful shows at many divisional, district and international contests. (He is the tall individual in the black turtleneck with the “pooper-scooper,” cleaning up the stage after quartet excesses.)
An instrument-rated Private pilot, Doug spends his time in retirement mostly near the ground, surfing the Internet for little gems of organization lore to advise the Board, tormenting Bruce Oldham (“sometimes I think the butter has slipped completely off his pancake”), and polishing the spangles on the bright grey and gold, old-time Captain’s jacket he wears for our renditions of "Here Comes The Showboat" and "Roll On, Mississippi."
War Horse Interview – Conducted in the barbecue pit of the home he shares with his wife Jan in Mission Viejo, where Doug was frying up a batch of new witticisms in preparation for the fall show season. We commenced our interview with an offhand inquiry about his personal behavior:
MOH: Tell me, Cap’n, d’you wear your jacket in bed?
DM: Not any more. My wife says the epaulettes tickle.
MOH: You are a tall, lean drink of water, aren’t you?
DM: I eat what I please; I’m also charming, shy and modest.
MOH: We’d like to get an idea of your politics. Do you believe in the two-party system?
DM: Sure, a party on Friday, a party on Saturday.
MOH: How about Latin American affairs?
DM: I never had one; but that Frida Kahlo is hot!
MOH: She’s deceased.
DM: Oh. Still . . . How about that Eva Perón!
MOH: Do you trust Fidel Castro?
DM: Personally, I never trusted Desi Arnaz.
MOH: How about the situation in the Middle East?
DM: I don’t know [thinks]; my wife is from the Middle West.
MOH: What are your hobbies?
DM: I do a lot of flying, and most of it in airplanes.
MOH: Hoosier fav’rite barbershopper, and why?
DM: Well, I think it would be Bruce Oldham. I have had more laughs at his expense . . .
MOH: You mean he’s sort of a foil?
DM: More like an archery target.
MOH: How would you like to be remembered?
DM: As a really old guy.
MOH: No, I mean, what do you want people to say?
DM: Well, when they’re standing around my casket at the viewing, I hope one of them says, “Look, he’s moving!”
MOH: A last word for your fans?
DM: Behind every great man is a surprised mother-in-law.
Doug Maddox eschews elected office, preferring to work his mysterious influence behind the scenes, literally, as production director and editorial reviewer, and through the Image & Standards and Music committees. He has long been the conscience of the chorus, maintaining the graciousness of our public image and internal discipline when we lag, always on the side of excellence. (Don’t ask him why the Devil makes us sing flat.) He is a Far Western District Bachelor of Harmony, and has been their production director, too, for 13 years. He was awarded the FWD President’s Award in 1994 and, in 2005, the entire Spring District Convention was dedicated to none other than our Doug!
In MOH, Doug was Barbershopper of the Year 1990; he has won the Larry Ajer (Mr. Broadway) Award as outstanding performer (1997), the Director’s Award (1992, 2001) and five President’s Awards, before his election to the Hall of Fame in 2004.
A man of sage advice but few words, unless you give him a microphone, Doug is recognized throughout the Society for his wit and willingness to be involved in making your show a sensation. With his signature “H’lo” and having raised rambling explanation to a high art, no one has ever figured out whether Doug’s reaching into his pocket for notes on stage is a real memory lapse, or just pretending. The audiences love it!
For further (serious) information about Doug and his many achievements in the barbershop world (lecturing at Harmony College, writing the standard production manual for the Society, teaching stagecraft and creative marketing, serving nearly ten years on the Society Events Committee, blah blah blah), see the front page MasterLink write-up on the occasion of his election to the MOH Hall of Fame (November 10, 2004), and the FWD Convention Dedication that appears in the Summer 2005 edition of Westunes (Vol. 55, No. 3, page 25). Each is reprinted on the respective MOH or FWD website.
[Whatever else you may say about people like Doug Maddox, I have always thought of them as an important source of protein. Readers are requested to ignore all references in this article to someone called Bruce Oldham; in Doug’s words, he’s a “digression,” a fantasy and unnecessary to our major premise. Had this been a real interview, I would be trying to balance on the wingtips.]
Next exciting, unsuspecting and imaginary interviewee – Bernard Priceman!
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