Dr. Charlie Roberts - Frank Wickes - Dr. Linda Moorhouse - Roy King - Mike Shepherd - Del Moon on field at LSU Tiger Stadium 9-12-2009
Dr. Charlie Roberts - Mike Shepherd - Dr. Linda Moorhouse - Frank Wickes - Roy King - Dr. Larry Kaptain - Del Moon at LSU Lod Cook Center 9-11-2009
The LSU Tiger Marching Band - founded 1893
The LSU Tiger Marching Band is the first college marching band to be inducted into a music hall of fame, and the distinction is just the latest in a long series of singular achievements that easily demonstrate that it has earned the honor. That doesn’t even account for the way the Tiger Band is weaved into Louisiana’s history: no other school band was founded by a future governor, has had fight songs written by another governor, or benefited from having a famed jazz orchestra leader as its bandmaster. Since “Tiger Rag” originated as a Dixieland jazz song, every time the Tiger Band enters the football field blasting the notes of that song to wild cheers, it is paying homage to the indigenous music of Louisiana.
Few other college bands are as integral to the identity and lore of their athletic programs and campus culture. Few are as loved and supported by its fans and revered even by those from opposing ones. Finally, few other band programs have produced as many musicians, music educators and famed alumni in the music world. Quite simply, this is a hall of fame band and everyone who participates in the program is changed forever from the experience.
With the nickname “The Old War Skule” it’s no surprise that the first music organization at Louisiana State University would be a military band. In 1893 two student cadets formed an 11-member band- Wylie M. Barrow was named captain of the new group and Ruffin G. Pleasant, a future governor of the state, served as director. In the long tradition of musicians surviving by playing for tips on the street, at times the fledgling band wore advertising sandwich boards in downtown Baton Rouge and performed for donations to help pay expenses.
By the turn of the century the Cadet Band also became a marching unit. Tours of the state and appearances at Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans became early traditions. In 1904, the band joined four companies of cadets from LSU for a performance at the St. Louis World Exposition. The band had become an important element of life on the campus. The first faculty director was W.B. Clarke, a blind and gifted musician and composer, and the first full-time director was Charles A. Kellogg, a former trombone soloist in Patrick Gilmore's famous band.
When LSU’s music department was established in 1915, all music students were required to perform in the Cadet Band. The all-male band marched in numerous Carnival parades including the Rex Parade in New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day. It also accompanied the football team to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech game.
In May of 1916, the band led the inaugural parade for Louisiana’s new governor with a crowd estimated in the thousands. The event had a special meaning to the band, as the Governor-elect was Ruffin G. Pleasant, co-organizer of the band in 1893.
The Cadet Band’s role at football games was minor compared to its other responsibilities of playing for military drills and programs. The band’s first halftime appearance was in 1924. By the late 1920's the band had grown to number more than 100 and was already earning its spot alongside the country’s university marching band elite.
When Louisiana’s famous populist Governor Huey P. Long took a personal interest in the LSU Band in the early 1930's , major changes set the band on a unique course toward national prominence. Long's plan was to make LSU one of the country's greatest universities. This included making the band "second to none."
In 1934 Long attended a show at the famed Blue Room of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans featuring jazz dance orchestra leader Castro Carazo and sent a bodyguard to bring the Costa-Rican born celebrity to his table. LSU Alumni Association President and Tiger Band alumnus Dr. Charlie Roberts recalls how Castro told him the encounter went. “Huey said ‘You are now the band leader at LSU, come with me, we're returning to LSU."
It was Long who saw to it that the football band traded in its military dress for a more showy stadium look and introduced the LSU bands to its current colors, purple and gold. Thanks to Long’s determination to have the biggest and the best in the land, the band soon numbered nearly 250 and was indeed one of the country’s largest. As intent on showmanship as he was size, Long encouraged the football band to become more dazzling. Halftime shows soon won LSU the nickname "The Show Band of the South."
By the time Carazo left LSU in 1940, the Tiger Band was known far and wide as one of the country’s premier show bands. The start of the second world war, however, resulted in changes on the LSU campus that affected the ranks and the look of the band. With so many young men heading off to war, the size of the band was greatly reduced. During the Carazo years, female students had appeared with the band as drum majorettes, but not in the ranks of musicians. In 1943 and 1944, Director J.S. Fisher supplemented the all-male band with female members. This led the way for LSU coeds to become regular members of the marching band.
The arrival of L. Bruce Jones as director in 1945 signaled a move back to the show band values developed by Carazo and the establishment of various characteristics familiar today. The band department was established as a component of the LSU School of Music, one of the few in the south at that time. By the 1950's, the band would continue its reputation for halftime extravaganzas employing intricate formations and patterns. Its celebrity was recognized when famed march composer Karl King wrote the "LSU Tiger Triumph March," first played in Tiger Stadium at the Tennessee game of 1952. The marching Tigers were also increasingly the traveling Tigers. "L-S U" formations were seen at the State Fair Stadium in Shreveport and in Texas, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.
The band traveled to 8 bowl games during the twelve years (1964-1976) that Dr. William F. Swor served as band director. Swor introduced the Twirling Corps (majorettes eventually called "Tigerettes") in 1965; the LSU Colorguard flag unit was first established in 1971. It was also during his tenure that “The Golden Band From Tigerland” nickname was first introduced. If that wasn’t enough, Swor was also the architect of the dramatic and famous “Pregame Entrance” combining the traditional “Hold That Tiger” theme with “Touchdown For LSU” and ending with the band forming a “tunnel” for the football team’s entrance. Much of the band’s works throughout this era were brilliantly arranged by John Edmunds and were picked up for use by other contemporary bands.
Under the leadership of Nicholas Rouse (1976-1980), the band acknowledged a national trend among most high school and university bands and made the transition to the modified "corps" style of halftime show design that is in existence today.
Today's Tiger Band fields 325 marching members and continues the fine traditions established over the past century. The 2009 marching Tigers will be the 30th edition to be led by current LSU Director of Bands Frank B. Wickes. Associate Director of Bands Dr. Linda R. Moorhouse joined the staff in 1985and now oversees all aspects of the Tiger Band, from teaching the drill and music, to drill writing and show design. She also oversees the Golden Girls and Colorguard. In 1998 Roy King was named Assistant Director of Bands to oversee the Bengal Brass basketball pep band and to assist with Tiger Band in drill writing and field teaching.
Somewhere Huey Long and Castro Carazo are smiling.
To learn and experience more, please visit the LSU Tiger Band (Photo & Memorabalia) Gallery and its Inductees Video Gallery under "GALLERIES MUSIQUE" on this site. Also, in a relate area, please visit the Bio and GALLERIES MUSIQUE areas for Songwriter Inductees Castro Carazo & Huey P. Long .
Bio compiled by Del Moon and Mike Shepherd and based on Frank B. Wicke’s “THE MARCHING TIGERS: A Brief Look at Over 100 Years of the LSU Tiger Band” For more and current info on the LSU Tiger Marching Band please visit their pages at the LSU department of bands at http://www.bands.lsu.edu/ensembles/tiger_band.php .
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