Million Dollar Band
Million Dollar Band logo.gif
SchoolUniversity of Alabama
LocationTuscaloosa, Alabama
ConferenceSEC
Founded1912 (1912)
DirectorDr. Kenneth Ozzello
Assistant DirectorsSteve Simpson
Kevin Welborn
Justin White
Members407
Practice fieldButler Field
Fight song"Yea Alabama"
Websitebands.ua.edu/mdb-2/
Million Dollar Band uniform, front and back. There is a gray pants/black shoes variant.
Million Dollar Band uniform, front and back. There is a gray pants/black shoes variant.

The Million Dollar Band (sometimes shortened to MDB) is the official marching band of the University of Alabama. Founded in 1912, the Million Dollar Band is the largest student organization at the University of Alabama.[1] The band performs during pregame and halftime of every home and neutral-site Alabama football game; it also supplies at least a pep band to every away football game, as well as home men's basketball, women's basketball, women's gymnastics, and volleyball games. In 2003, the band was awarded the Sudler Trophy, recognizing it as one of the top college bands in the United States.

History

The band performing its pregame show prior to a football game in 2010.
The band performing its pregame show prior to a football game in 2010.

The Million Dollar Band, which was first known simply as the "Alabama Band", was formed as a military band in 1912.[2] In its first year, the band consisted of just 14 members under director Dr. Gustav Wittig, who was also an engineering and physics professor at the university.[3][4] He served as director for five years before stepping down; the band was then student-led until 1927, when Captain H. H. Turner took over as director.[5] The story of how the band earned its name is contested, but the account recognized by the university (released in the 1948 football media guide) is as follows: during the 1922 football season, Alabama visited Georgia Tech and got blown out, 33–7. Champ Pickens, a notable Alabama alumnus who was present at the game, was asked by a local sportswriter, "You don't have much of a team, what do you have at Alabama?". In response, Pickens quipped, "A million dollar band." His inspiration for the term came from his observation of the impressive effort the small band had put into soliciting funds from local merchants in order to accompany the football team to off-campus games.[1]

In 1936, Colonel Carleton K. Butler (for whom the band’s practice field is named) took over the band and led it to national prominence among collegiate marching bands. Colonel Butler was known as the "Father of the Million Dollar Band." The 1935 season was one of rebuilding for the Crimson Tide. The previous season had produced a national title but gone were All-Americans Bill Lee, Dixie Howell, and Don Hudson. There were, however, two men that would become significant forces in the Alabama tradition on campus that year. Paul W. Bryant was entering his senior season as an Alabama player while Carleton K. Butler was beginning his first season as director of the "Million Dollar Band." Butler came to the University in 1935 and stayed until his retirement in 1969. Although the band was already an integral part of the Bama tradition, Butler would lead them to a higher level of prominence. Like Bryant, Colonel Butler's trademarks were discipline and sacrifice. The title of Colonel was an honorary distinction awarded by the ROTC in 1938. During Colonel Butler's tenure, the "Million Dollar Band" performed at 14 bowl games, appeared on numerous television broadcasts, represented the University at three governor's inaugurations and performed at the 1949 inauguration of President Harry S. Truman. (His bands became famous for their precise marching formations, including the correct time, temperature, and even the score of the game.) Majorettes were not allowed in his bands, but a coed sponsor led each march carrying a bouquet of roses. The Colonel also served as an instructor in the Music Department and helped train many music students that would hold positions as high school and college band leaders throughout the nation. During World War II he directed many area high school and military bands in addition to his duties with the University of Alabama's marching band. He also played the oboe in the Birmingham Civic Symphony and authored numerous books and professional articles on music. After Colonel Butler's retirement in 1969, he and his wife moved to Asheville, North Carolina, where he lived until his death in 1993. Under Colonel Carleton Butler's guidance, the "Million Dollar Band" attained national acclaim and many honors, prompting former President Roger Sayers to say in an article for the Crimson White,"What Paul W. Bryant was to Alabama football, Colonel Carleton K. Butler was to Alabama's music program and bands."[6]

Butler remained director for 33 years. Earl Dunn took charge in 1969. After Dunn’s two-year stint at the Capstone, Dr. James Ferguson was named director, where he remained until 1983. Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant often voiced his support for the band during his tenure, sometimes partially crediting it after victories.[7] After the tenure of Dr. Ferguson, Kahthyrn Scott took over as director. Kathryn Scott is the first woman to be marching band director at a Division I school. Scott changed the band's marching style to corps style, as opposed to traditional marching. Scott often included pyrotechnics in halftime performances. The United States Army Herald Trumpets were included in her final halftime show, called "Halftime of a Lifetime".[8] Dr. Kenneth Ozzello has been in charge of the band since 2002. One year after he was named director, the band won the Sudler Trophy, awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.[9] Ozzello continues the corps style and helped cement the pregame show as one of the most iconic in the country. A staple of pregame is "The Big Bama Spell Out" as well as "Tusk" when the band forms an elephant and marches down the field.

Directors

Name Years
Dr. Gustav Wittig 1912–1918
None (Student-led) 1918–1927
Cpt. H. H. Turner 1927–1934
Col. Carleton K. Butler 1935–1968
Earl Dunn 1969–1971
Dr. James Ferguson 1971–1983
Kathryn B. Scott 1984–2002
Dr. Kenneth Ozzello 2003–present

Traditions

The band performing a "Booming Big Bama Spell Out" before a football game
The band performing a "Booming Big Bama Spell Out" before a football game

Songs and Cheers

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Band Recordings

Appearances

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The MDB performs side-by-side with the Clemson marching band prior to the 2008 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.
The MDB performs side-by-side with the Clemson marching band prior to the 2008 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.

Paul Bryant Years (1958-1982)

Gene Stalling Years 1990-1996

Mike Dubose Years (1997-2000)

Dennis Franchione Years 2001-02

Mike Shula Years 2003-06

Saban years (2007–Present)

References

  1. ^ a b "Million Dollar Band". RollTide.com. The University of Alabama. 2002-06-07. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  2. ^ Eaton, Kim (2012-09-20). "University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band celebrates 100 years". The Tuscaloosa News. GateHouse Media. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  3. ^ Pow, Chris (2012-09-20). "UA's Million Dollar Band marks 100 years of tradition this weekend". AL.com. Alabama Media Group. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  4. ^ Catalogue of the University of Alabama for the College Year 1913–14 and Announcements for 1914–15. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama. April 1914. p. 85. OCLC 18144112.
  5. ^ "Yea, Alabama!". College of Arts & Sciences. The University of Alabama. 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
  6. ^ "Million Dollar Band Camp (2020-08-07)". Archived from the original on 2000-08-20.
  7. ^ Clem Gryska (2007-10-01). Tradition: Million Dollar Band. CBS Sports. Event occurs at 01:14. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. We played well, very fortunate. And our band was just terrific. They helped us win the ball game.
  8. ^ "Million Dollar Band - 2002 Halftime of a Lifetime". YouTube.
  9. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Ozzello". University of Alabama. 2010-12-26.
  10. ^ "Students Miss "Basket Case"". November 17, 2006.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Song Returns to Fourth Quarter". November 8, 2007. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007.