The Peppermint Pipers were created in 1967, at Benjamin Stoddert Jr High School, Marlow Heights, Maryland, by then 21-year old Music teacher, Jean Shaw. From her classes, she selected 15 students to become the first year Peppermint Pipers. If you were at a Prince George’s Kiwanis or Lions Club meeting, or at the county fair, or if you watched such local TV shows as “Wing Ding” or “Ranger Hal,” you might have seen them: a group of freshly scrubbed students in matching red-and-white outfits singing their little teenage hearts out. “We were kind of like little Marlow Heights celebrities in a way,” said Sue Lyons, then the drummer in the Peppermint Pipers. The Pipers played everywhere. They went to San Antonio, singing at the HemisFair there in 1968. They spent 10 days one summer performing at an amusement park in Cincinnati, competing with Up With People to see who could draw a bigger crowd.
The kids came from different groups aka cliques that were popular then. The three most common were Collegiates, the preppy, studious types, who most commonly wore button down shirts, penny loafers, and other “sensible” clothing. The next were the Mods, the fashionable kids mimicking the latest styles from London’s Carnaby Street, so trendy during the mid to late 1960s. Think Mary Quant, Twiggy, the Monkees, and many others. Just any bright, bold colors, often splayed in geometric patterns on shirts, pants, and skirts. And then there were Blocks, a true DC/PG county original, tough guys kind of like greasers. The common attire for male Blocks were construction worker type pants, known as Macks, Ban-lon shirts, Peters jacket, Chuck Taylors (white hi-tops preferred), and slicked back hair. Yet these kids got along. These kids would have killed for each other. Under normal conditions, they would not have spoken to each other.
The Peppermint Pipers had a three-year run at Stoddert, from school year 1967-1968, through school year 1969-1970. In that time they also recorded two albums. Where did the inspiration for the name come from? Some have speculated both two Top 40 groups popular at the time, the Lemon Pipers (Green Tambourine), and the Peppermint Rainbow (Don’t Wake Me Up In The Morning Michael). Whatever their inspiration, the Pipers were a true Marlow Heights original. In August 2010, remaining members held a, “Piperstock” reunion concert in Easton, Maryland. Jean, put the group back together and it was almost eerie how similar these now middle aged members sounded like the teenaged kids they were back then. From one of the Pipers’ songs, “Have Fun”!