1967 - 1983
Eric E. Payton was born February 6, 1929 in Sherbrooke, Quebec Canada as one of nine children. His parents were Salvation Army officers (ministers) in several Canadian and American cities.
Mr Payton was the first PHHS band director to have graduated from PHHS in 1946. His brother Orville wrote the Port Huron Fight Song in 1941 when he was a senior.
Eric ernlisted in the Air Force in 1950, and after basic training, he was transferred to Sampson Air Force Base in Geneva N.Y. He then auditioned for the Air Force band in Washington D.C. where he remained until his discharge in 1953.
Eric attended Port Huron Junior College in 1954-56 where he received his associate degree. He received his bachelor and Masters degree from Wayne State University in 1957. He participated in both the men's Glee Club under Harry Langsford, and the honors band under Harry Begian.
Eric began teaching in Port Huron in 1957 at the Grant, Jefferson, and Garfield schools. He then taught at Washington Junior High School for ten years, after which he moved to Port Huron High School where he taught until 1983. He taught the 120 piece freshman band; the 80 piece sophomore band; and the 100 piece junior and senior Honors band, as well as the 190 piece Big Red Marching Machine, and the Royal Reds Jazz band. The BRMM won best band in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade three times; as well as the Octoberfest parade in Kitchener, Ontario Canada, and several times in the Sarnia Christmas parade. The Royal Reds Jazz Band won as the best jazz band in the Toronto Jazz Band Festival featuring Maynard Ferguson. They also toured Scotland, Wales, and England. In 1971 the BRMM was invited to compete in the Olympic Marching Band competition in Munich, Germany where they placed second out of fourteen bands. Mr. Payton also took the BRMM on tours to Nashville, Green Bay Wisconsin, Niagara Falls (five times), Disneyworld (three times), Gettysburg, New York City, Toronto, Ottowa Canada, and they won the Heart of St. Petersburg trophy in Florida.
Mr. Payton first introduced the name Big Red Marching Machine in the late 60's where he got the inspiration from the Big Red Machine of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball team.
Mr. Payton finished his career in Edwardsburg, MI, where he taught seven years until his retirement in 1990. He now resides in South Bend, Indiana.
Information submitted by Mr. Eric Payton