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HOW I BECAME A RAMS’ SONGLEADER By Carol (Keehn) Cameron

In 1963 when I was a junior in high school and was a songleader, my high school had a policy that if a songleader were a junior, she must try out again to be a songleader as a senior. There were
only a few times that juniors had ever been songleaders and on all such occasions, the girl went on to be head songleader their senior year and trying out was always thought of as just a formality. However, due to politics (yes, politics even back then in high school), I was not voted onto the squad. Realizing how sad I felt about not being a songleader in my senior year, my sister’s boyfriend suggested she contact the Los Angeles Rams’ Football organization to see if the Rams would be interested in having songleaders. My sister Donna had been a songleader in high school as well as college. Donna was always a “go-getter” and good at organizing and getting things done, so she was a natural to be the one to contact the Rams.

As far-fetched of an idea as Donna and I believed this to be, she called the Rams’ office and was placed in contact with the bandleader, Johnny Boudreau, who was not only the Rams’ beloved
bandleader for many years but also oversaw the Rams’ majorettes, the RAMETTES. Mr. Boudreau thought it sounded like a fine idea, but he wanted to make it clear to my sister that there would be no financial compensation to my sister for heading up the squad or to any of the girls, and that Donna would be in charge of selecting the songleaders, getting costumes made, as well as pom-poms (which songleaders need as part of their performance), and that each songleader would pay for their outfits, pom-poms, as well as getting to and from the home games. He said he would expect the songleaders to perform at ALL “home games” and “home pre-games” but not away-games due to the distance involved, with the exception of San Francisco any year that Donna thought it feasible for the squad to perform there (I believe it was the 1964 season that the squad made the trip to San Francisco). Although Mr. Boudreau stated that it was not possible to compensate the songleaders, he could pay for a paper- cutter for making the pom-poms, and later Mr. Boudreau arranged for the group to be reimbursed for the cost of the tissue paper required to make the pom-poms. Also, Mr. Boudreau was kind enough to give tickets for the games so that the songleaders’ family or friends could attend the games.

 

Donna and I were so excited and thrilled that we would be Los Angeles RAMS’ SONGLEADERS. The first year, 1963 football season, we did not hold tryouts since we knew enough songleaders for the four additional songleaders we needed for the total of six, as well as two alternate songleaders to be available if need be. My sister and I would create the routines and the entire squad had to agree to attend as many practices as necessary to perfect the routines. Once everyone knew the routines well, we held practices throughout the season a couple times a week. Our first performance was the pre- season game in August 1963.

Beyond the time scheduled for practices, there were the fittings for the outfits, time spent making our pom-poms (which believe it or not was very time consuming especially since we made new
pom-poms every second game to keep them looking full and fresh). During the football season each year, there would be a parade or two where we would ride in a car with a banner on the side. Also, on occasion, the songleaders would pose for pictures for a news article and once a year for the NFL Football Program. These events were added fun perks to being a RAMS’ SONGLEADER. At the end of the 1965 season, Mr. Boudreau asked us if we would like to perform for the AFL-NFL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Game in January 1966 that was being held at the Coliseum. Little did we know at the time that this was to be the “First” Super Bowl Game, although, the game was not officially called the SUPER BOWL until 1967.

 

The first two years we were songleaders for the RAMS, the RAMS’ colors were navy blue and gold. Then for the 1965 season, the colors were changed to blue and white. We all loved the navy blue
and gold, but the blue with the crisp white contract was really nice. Most fans referred to us as cheerleaders even though we did not lead cheers but performed dance routines whenever the band
played. The songleaders performed for pre-game and sometimes during half time. Also, Along with the Ramettes, we created two lines as the RAMS football players ran onto the field. The Los Angeles Coliseum was such a wonderful historic place to have the games. We felt so much honored to be Los Angeles RAMS’ Songleaders.

For the 1964 season, I was pregnant and unable to be in the group. I went to every game I could and watched the songleaders, and, oh yes; I watched the game too, of course. The second year, Mr.
Boudreau approved my niece, Kim Yvette, only two years old, joining the group. She wore a matching outfit and little pom-poms and imitated the songleaders as best she could, and the fans loved it. Kim did a darn good job copying the routines. In 1965 I believe, the Polaroid Company did “live POLAROID commercials” in the stadium, the RAMS would ask some of the girls to participate in the commercial to receive a POLAROID or cash equivalent to partake in a commercial. It was very exciting and Kim joined my sister in one of the commercials, as well as I was lucky enough to be in one too.

The third year, 1965, and our last year, I was able to be back on the squad. It was wonderful to be back. I recall the holding of public tryouts and advertising in the paper. Of course, we could only afford a small 3 line add in the Times, but enough qualified songleaders turned out so that Donna and I were able to choose the 4 regulars and 2 alternate songleaders we needed. I believe we decided this was our last year because it took so much time, especially the additional time that Donna put into it, plus I was busy with my family and working full time, so as much as Donna and I loved songleading for the RAMS, the 1965 season was our last year, plus the “honor” of performing in January 1966 at what became the “FIRST” Super Bowl.

I was so happy to learn that the RAMS are returning to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, my sister and my niece passed away in 2008. I will always treasure and lovingly recall the wonderful memories
Donna, Kim Yvette, and I shared songleading for the Los Angeles RAMS’ Football Team. After every game, we went over to the restaurant that everyone went to after the games – it was across the way from the Coliseum and Natural History Museum Park Area. Fans would see the football players there as well. I do not recall the name and do not believe it is there any longer.

 

Even though I live in Bishop, California (the gateway to the Sierras), I hope to be able to have the opportunity to go to see a “LOS ANGELES” RAMS’ Football game at their NEW stadium. Maybe my daughter Melanie and my son Todd will take me to see a game. It would be great to see the RAMS again. Back in the mid-1960’s, some of the players I recall are Mike Henry (who went on to play Tarzan in movies as I recall), Bucky Pope, Merlin Olsen (who went on to acting, i.e., Little House on the Prairie and other films), Rosey Greer, Lamar Lundy, Dick Bass, and Willie Brown to just name a few. I still have the program from our last game in December 1965 and the article within about Johnny Boudreau, the RAMETTES, and the SONGLEADERS, as well as a few pictures that have survived over the years.

 

Dated: May 5, 2018
Carol Diane (Keehn) Cameron

 

 

 

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