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Celebrate 150 Years of Taps

Keith Clark, Bugler at JFK’s Funeral


Keith Clark was the Principal Bugler with The United States Army Band who was placed in the world spotlight when he was called to sound Taps at the Funeral of John F. Kennedy.

The story of the “Broken Note”can be read by CLICKING HERE

Clark was born on November 21, 1927, in Grand Rapids,  Michigan, and studied trumpet with Clifford Liliya and Lloyd Geisler. After graduation from Interlochen Music School, he played with the Grand Rapids Symphony. In 1946, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as trumpet soloist with the United States Army Band. A deeply religious man, his life-long passion for rare books and hymns resulted in a publication, A Select Bibliography for the Study of Hymns.

Clark at age 19

Clark in the 1950s

It was during  his tenure with the Army Band that Clark received national attention as  the bugler who sounded Taps for John F. Kennedy’s funeral. The Taps will  be forever remembered as the Broken Taps. His bugle is on display at Arlington National Cemetery.

The audio can be heard HERE

Clark at the Kennedy grave 1964

After retiring from the army, Clark went on to a successful career of teaching, performing, and writing. His love of hymns brought him much recognition as a scholar and he has received numerous awards. He lived in Florida and was quite active as a trumpeter. His collection of hymnals was acquired by Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA in 1982. Mr. Clark’s great love for hymnody and Psalmody resulted in this large collection from various dealers and individuals. Containing more than 9,000 volumes, the Clark Hymnology Collection includes thousands of hymnbooks from various American denominations and churches, as well as several well-known books on hymnody from the 17th century to the present.

Clark with his Hymnal Collection

To download an article about the Keith Clark Hymnal Collection
Click on the image below

A little fun

The bugle on which he performed Taps at the Kennedy funeral was loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in April, 1973.  In the spring of 1999 the bugle was moved to Arlington where it is currently on display in the Visitor Center. The bugle was the centerpiece of the bugle exhibit The Taps Project

I asked Clark about Taps and in a letter to me, he wrote, “I feel the thought behind the playing and feeling used in the performance are the most important parts of each sounding of Taps.” He was not able to attend the opening of the Taps Exhibit at Arlington but I was pleased and honored when I received a photograph of him standing by his bugle.

Clark at the bugle exhibit at Arlington

Keith Clark passed away on January 10, 2002 at the age of 74 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery the graves of fellow musicians.

One of the many letters received by Clark following the funeral


Clark grave

Clark gravesite in Arlington


This article is Copyright © 2010 Tapsbugler.com

Much more information about the “Broken Taps” can be found in the booklet Twenty Four Notes That Tap Deep Emotions: The story of America’s most famous bugle call, by Jari Villanueva, visit http://www.jvmusic.net

Leave a Reply

17 Responses to “Keith Clark, Bugler at JFK’s Funeral”

  1. Tapsbugler says:

    actually after his 36th Birthday…

  2. Stan Modjesky says:

    Coincidentally, tomorrow will be the 49th anniversary of JFK’s death. To my thinking, this adds a poignant element never mentioned in Clark’s narrative of the events. The assassination occurred the day after Mr. Clark’s 35th birthday.

  3. Tapsbugler says:

    You can search for them on http://www.tapsbugler.com

  4. Would like the words to TAps . Thank you for your service to the US. Jane Lohdefinck 223 Jadwin Ave , Richland, WAshington 99352

  5. Tapsbugler says:

    Thank-you. He was great American. I hope we have done him justice. I am working up to do a full story on him next year for the 50th anniversary.
    Any other information (pictures and stories) would be welcome. Thanks Again…Jari Villanueva

  6. Karen Jean Clark Moore says:

    As one of Keith Clark’s daughters, I just want to thank you for all the time, effort and pictures that you’ve posted on the Internet. He has a growing family of grand and great-grand kids who are unfamiliar with his story, but I’ll be spreading the word on all the wonderful additions! Thank you, and God bless you!

  7. D. Shaw says:

    I was told by my stepmother that the man who had been the bugler at Kennedy’s funeral was by my father’s side in 1971 when Dad died of a heart attack. Mr. Clark had been helping my father cut down a diseased tree which was in danger of falling on Dad’s house. It was hot and muggy late summer weather in Virginia. My father suffered a heart attack and died almost immediately. Mr. Clark was the last person he saw before he died. It still touches my heart. May they both rest in peace.

  8. Arlington National Cemetery:

    For almost 100 years, at The Hockaday School, a private girls’ school in Dallas, “Taps” is played at our commencement. Our sixth-grade students take an annual trip to Arlington National Cemetery and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and listen to “Taps.” My husband Jon Christian Merkel was a pilot for Air America killed flying in Laos 18 Feb 70 and “Taps” was played at his funeral in Louden Park in Baltimore. My brother Frederic Baldwin Boruff was buried in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2010. I salute the men and women who play “Taps” for our fallen heroes.

  9. Von Roberts says:

    Very informative/taps for troops/Von Roberts

  10. Von Roberts says:

    Very interesting—-Taps for Troops/Von

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