Oskee Wow-Wow

Fight song of the University of Illinois
LyricsHoward Ruggles Green, 1910
MusicHarold Vater Hill, 1910

Oskee Wow-Wow (along with "Illinois Loyalty") is the official fight song of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[1] The song was written in 1910 by two students: Harold Vater Hill '11 (1889–1917), credited with the music, and Howard Ruggles Green '12 (1890–1969), credited with the lyrics.


"Oskee Wow-Wow" is an invented phrase similar to other college cheers and yells of that period, and the Illinois cheer was used from before the turn of the 20th century.

In the summer of 1910, Hill and Green composed and entered "Oskee Wow-Wow" and several other songs into a contest for a student-composed opera.[2][3] The opera was never finished, so the two attempted to sell the musical numbers to a publisher. They managed to sell the song to Charley Graham, the manager of the U. of I. Supply Store (also known as the Co-Op) for $100. Hill and Green attempted to gift Graham "Hail to the Orange" by printing it on the back cover of "Oskee Wow-Wow," but Graham refused, citing the song's lack of "punch."[4] "Oskee Wow Wow" was copyrighted in 1911.[5] Melrose Bros. Music Co., Inc. of Chicago published it as sheet music in 1928 [6] It became popular as the school's primary fight song primarily because "Illinois Loyalty," the older fight song, was not well suited to rousing large crowds at a game.


The piano + voice score from the original publication by the U. of I. Supply Store

The original words of the song are as follows: [7]

Verse 1
Old Princeton yells her tiger
Wisconsin her varsity
And they give the same old Rah! Rah! Rah!
At each University
But the yell that always thrills me
And fills my heart with joy
Is the good old Oskee wow-wow
That they yell at Illinois

Oskee wow-wow Illinois
Our eyes are all on you
Oskee wow-wow Illinois
Wave your Orange and your blue Rah! Rah!
When the team trots out before you
Ev'ry man stand up and yell
Back the team and give [opponent's name]
Oskee wow-wow Illinois

Verse 2
Teddy Roosevelt may be famous
and his name you often hear
But it's heroes on the football field
Each college man holds dear
We think with pride of Roberts
Artie Hall and Heavy too
Oskee wow-wow for the wearers
Of the Orange and the Blue



The music is included in the ″Illini Fantasy″, a medley of Illinois songs and marches arranged for concert band by James Curnow in 1970 as a commission from Director of Bands Harry Begian.

There have long been two versions of the song. Most commonly, it is played "from the hold" at the start of the chorus, when the "O" in "Oskee Wow-Wow" is held out. This version is played after first downs and touchdowns in football, and leading into time outs in basketball. Coincidentally, the buzzers at nearly every arena are in the same chord as the hold. The song used to be played "from the top" after an extra point was kicked, but has recently been replaced in favor of "Fight, Illini."

For many years, the band started playing the song "from the top" toward the end of the warmup period in basketball. When conducted correctly, the "hold" is played just as the buzzer sounds.

The song appears to have been written to be played after a touchdown, as it slows down while being played "from the top" before picking back up after the "hold."

See also


  1. ^ "University Yells". UIHistories. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  2. ^ "'Oskee Wow Wow' predates the Chief". News Gazette. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  3. ^ "'Hail to the Orange' Once Rejected". Daily Illini. Champaign, IL. August 15, 1951. p. 21. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  4. ^ Bruninga, Merle (October 26, 1939). "'Hail to Orange' Once Refused as a Gift". Daily Illini. Champaign, IL. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  5. ^ Burford, Cary Clive (1952) We're Loyal to You, Illinois. Danville, Ill.: The Interstate. p. 174. Copy of the 1911 sale contract between The U. of I. Supply Store and Green and Hill.
  6. ^ Green, H.R. and H.V. Hill (1911). Oskee Wow-Wow, A Song of the University of Illinois. [Piano-vocal sheet music]. Chicago: Melrose Bros. Music Co, Inc., 1928.
  7. ^ Green and Hill (1911)