Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
|Tufts' all-male acapella singing group, the Beelzebubs, was founded in 1962.It began when a group of students prepared an acapella rendition of "Winter Wonderland" for the annual Christmas Sing. They were a hit, and the group expanded, becoming the Beelzebubs.|
The name was the suggestion of John Todd, A1964, who had the devil's right hand man on his mind from an English course on Milton he was taking at the time. The formal name of the ensemble, Jumbo's Disciples: The Beelzebubs, is rarely used, and they are more commonly known simply as the Bubs. The Bubs' first formal concert appearance was at a sorority dance in spring 1963, where they sported madras jackets and crew cuts and were paid $35.
A founding member of the group was Timothy L. Vaill, A1964, who coordinated the group's first performance at the Christmas Sing in 1962. Vaill's father was a leader of the Yale Wiffenpoofs, an acapella group, and the knowledge Vaill gained from his father's experience was a motivating factor in establishing the Tufts group. At the time Tufts had no small-scale singing groups; the university chorus was a large ensemble and though there were a few informal folk groups, there was nothing of like the Bubs. In the 1950s there was briefly an acapella group called the Tuftones, but they had long since disappeared. Since then the Bubs have flourished and are one of the longest-lasting student groups on campus, and the only group other than the Leonard Carmichael Society to survive the turbulent years of the 1960s. The group averages twelve members at any given time and holds auditions two or three times per year.
The Bubs perform often on campus and travel to other area schools for joint performances with other campus groups. They have also traveled around the country and the world, singing at schools and events representing Tufts. In recent years the group made a cameo appearance on the Late Night with David Letterman television show on CBS and sang during pregame activities at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game at Fenway Park, both in 1999.
The Bubs have an active alunmi association, the Beelzebubs Alumni Association (BAA) which brings together alumni of the organization several times a year for reunions and singing.
The Bubs' musical style has undergone dramatic expansion from its early roots in traditional barbershop style music. By the mid 1980s the group had added arrangements of popular music to its repertoire along with the traditional Tufts tunes. Over the years more choreography has been added to the routines and the group's performances embrace a variety of styles. Members of the group do all of the arrangements and each year's Bubs work up an all-new raft of songs. Over the years the Bubs have released twenty-two recordings, most recently a CD titled "CODE RED" in 2003.
In addition to its extensive schedule of performances, the Bubs administer the Beelzebubs Foundation, which provides grants to support music education in Massachusetts public schools. Since its founding in 1991, the foundation has provided funds to support the purchase of equipment, instruments, and sheet music in communities in the Boston area.
Source: TC, Spring-Summer 1988