GREENVILLE – One of Greenville High School’s most notable graduates passed away on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 at 1 a.m. Although Ken McCoy may not have been a household name in Greenville, musicians from around the world have seen his name on pieces of music for the past four decades. According to the Facebook Page of Judy (McCoy) Gerlach, sister, McCoy was on a rollercoaster ride with his health the past few weeks, but ultimately it was the flu and pneumonia that took its toll. She wrote, “Thank you all for your prayers. We are deeply touched by the outpouring of love and concern for Ken by so many people from far and wide.”
The 1964 Greenville High School graduate was born in Ironton in 1946, but moved to Greenville with his family when his father, John McCoy, became the head of the instrumental music department at Greenville High School. His first arrangements were performed by the 1964-65 Greenville High School Marching Band and featured the Beatles songs Please, Please Me and Ticket to Ride. In a 2014 interview with The Early Bird, McCoy said, “When I heard the band playing my arrangement I was hooked.“
For 18 years the Army Field Band had a connection to Darke County. The Chief Musical Arranger was McCoy. McCoy had served two years in the military when he was drafted in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until 1977 that McCoy found his career. A friend tipped him off the Army Field Band was looking for a trumpet player. He didn’t believe he would be good enough to be in the band, but thought it might be an opening to do what he loved to do – arrange music. His hunch was correct. After presenting several of his pieces he soon got a call to be a musical arranger for the band. At nearly 30 years old, McCoy was going back to basic training.
Even before he retired from the military, McCoy was looking for his next “gig.” It would be one that would keep him occupied and involved in the profession he loved. He visited Dr. John Woods at The Ohio State University. Dr. Woods was an old Army man and was eager to meet with McCoy. While there wasn’t an arrangers position available, Dr. Woods and McCoy were able to work out an arrangement. When McCoy retired he would go back to school and work on his master’s degree. At the age of 49 he would become the oldest graduate assistant conductor. More than 20-years later, he was still with the band doing what he loved, arranging music.
Whenever McCoy would arrange a program for the Best Damn Band in the Land, it would be a day his adopted hometown could be proud. McCoy was not the only Greenville connection with arrangements being played on those days. McCoy pointed out he was proud to share the stage with another Greenville High School graduate Richard “Dick” Heine, Class of 1934, who arranged many of the pre-game songs.
McCoy was also proud of the CD’s released by the marching band. At least one or two of his arrangements appear each of the CD’s. Nine of the 13 arrangements on the Christmas CD are McCoy’s.
McCoy’s arrangements have been played by numerous high school, college and professional bands across the globe. His music has been heard everywhere from the Greenville High School gymnasium to Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
PHOTO CAPTION: Ken McCoy (Ryan Berry photo)