Stanford Band

Stanford Band

The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) is the student marching band of Stanford University. Billing itself as "The World's Largest Rock and Roll Band," it performs at sporting events, student activities, and other functions. Technically, it is not actually a marching band but rather a scatter band.

A "Rolling Stone" writer once said of the band, "It's hard for anyone raised on rock to imagine that a band could sound this loud without thousands of watts of amplification." ["Band on the Run", James B. Meigs, "Rolling Stone" 509, September 24, 1987, p. 153]


The modern LSJUMB was formed in 1963 when members of the university marching band went on strike to protest the firing of the band director. According to band lore, the new director, Arthur P. Barnes, immediately won the loyalty of the band by ceding any meaningful control over it. [Meigs, "op cit", p. 89] The band and its new director also clicked over his arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which featured the striking effect of a single trumpet playing the first half of the song, joined later by soft woodwinds and tuba, and finally bringing the full power of the brass only in the final verse. When it was played at the "Big Game" against Cal, just eight days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Barnes said, "I've never heard such a loud silence."

Empowered, the student-led band threw away the traditional marching music and uniforms, eventually settling for a mostly rock and roll repertoire and a simplified uniform consisting of a white fishing hat with red trim (and as many buttons as will fit), red blazer, black pants, and "the ugliest tie you can get your hands on." [Meigs, "op cit", p. 89, 152] In the springtime and at non-athletic events, band members appear at performances (and sometimes even at rehearsals) wearing "rally" attire, which can range from swim suits to Halloween costumes to furniture and pets, always displaying their freedom from the usual rules of fashion. The Badonkadonk Land Cruiser is used as a band support vehicle.

Songs and shows

The band's repertoire is heavy on classic rock of the 1970s, particularly songs by Tower of Power, Santana, and The Who. In the '90s, more modern music was introduced, including songs by Green Day and The Offspring. The "de facto" fight song is "All Right Now," originally performed by Free. The band prides itself on its vast song selection, never playing the same song twice in one day, and has a library of over one thousand songs at its disposal, nearly one hundred of which are in active rotation. One of the first collegiate marching bands to record and release their music, the band has produced twelve albums since 1967. Arrangements focus on the loudest brass instruments—trumpets, mellophones, and trombones—and percussion—one bass drum (called the Axis of Rhythm), snare drums, and single tenor drums. Many traditional band instruments like bells and glockenspiels are altogether absent.

Traditional "marching" is also missing, as the band "scatters" from one formation to the next. The halftime field shows feature formations that are silly or suggestive shapes, as well as words (sometimes of the obscene variety). A team of Stanford students, generally not band members, writes a script for the halftime show explaining to some degree what the band is doing in any given formation. The announcer reads this script over the public address system.

The band is one of a few American college "marching" bands with a song on iTunes with "Golgi Apparatus".

Controversial actions by the band

Irreverence has been a mainstay of the band throughout its over 40-year history. In the 1970s, one halftime show lampooned Cal student Patty Hearst's kidnapping with a formation called the "Hearst Burger": two buns and no patty. The band gave a tribute for the anniversary of Jayne Mansfield's death, by announcing over the PA the urban legend of how she had been decapitated in an automobile accident. The band then played the song "Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got No Body." In 1999, when UCLA football players were caught in a handicapped parking scandal, the Band formed a handicapped symbol on the field, and wheeled the Tree in on a wheelchair.

In 1972, the Band went from an all-male band to co-ed. The band's popularity during this time period is best reflected by an alumnus who sent a million dollar donation to the University with the stipulation that the Band be criticized. The President ripped up the check and returned it stating "We love the Band". This letter was proudly hung in the shak for many years.Fact|date=September 2007

The LSJUMB has been disciplined for controversial performances on several occasions:

* In 1986, the University suspended the band from traveling to the UCLA football game scheduled on November 8th, 1986 after incidents in previous games that season. First, on October 11th, 1986, an infamous incident of public urination happened following the home football game against the University of Washington. (Although many swear that this incident occurred during the halftime show, actually two band members were caught urinating outside the stadium after the game, when the bathrooms were locked.) Second, during the halftime show of the home USC game on October 19th, 1986, the band spelled out "NO BALLZ". Finally, for the next game they performed an anagram show and spelled out an anagrammed four-letter word ("NCUT"). (The "NCUT" formation was written to be "NEUT," an anagram of "TUNE"--but Band members did not form the crossbar to the "E", changing it to a "C" and thus drastically changing the anagrammed word.) After the UCLA game suspension was served, the band appeared at the Cal game wearing angel halos in an attempt to apologize and get invited to travel with the football team to a bowl game. The band attended the Gator Bowl that year, amid very close scrutiny. [Meigs, "op cit", p. 89, 150, 152]

* In 1990, Stanford suspended the band for a single game after their halftime show at the University of Oregon criticized the logging of the spotted owl's habitats in the northwest United States. The band used formations in the shape of a chainsaw and in the shape of the word OWL changing to AWOL. [Cite video | people = noodleboy5 (Contributor) | title = The Spotted Owl Show, Stanford Band at Oregon | accessdate = 2008-07-27 | date = 2007-04-14 | time = 459 seconds | url = ] Governor Neil Goldschmidt (D-OR) issued a decree that the band not return to Oregon for several years; the band did not return until 2001. [] After the spotted owl incident, all halftime shows were reviewed and approved by Stanford's Athletic Department.
* In 1991, the University of Notre Dame banned the LSJUMB from visiting its campus after a halftime show at Stanford in which drum major Eric Selvik dressed as a nun and conducted the band using a wooden cross as a baton. (During the pregame show and first half of the game, the drum major had been dressed as an Orthodox Jew, where the wooden cross was part of a menorah-like baton.) After the halftime show, a female Notre Dame fan ran onto the field, approached from behind the unsuspecting Selvik, and forcibly ripped the nun habit off of his head. Selvik pursued and regained his habit from the attacker, who in the scuffle for the habit told the drum major he was "going to hell for this." []
* In 1992, the Athletic Department pressured the LSJUMB to fire its announcers after one used the phrase "No chuppah, no schtuppa" at a San Jose State University game halftime show.
* In 1994, the Band was disciplined after nineteen members of the band skipped a field rehearsal in Los Angeles to play outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O. J. Simpson trial. The band's song selection included an arrangement of The Zombies' "She's Not There." Defense lawyer Robert Shapiro described the incident to the media as "a new low in tasteless behavior." [] Later that year, during the halftime show of the football game against USC (where Simpson had played football and won the 1968 Heisman Trophy), band members drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford stadium track, [] an obvious allusion to the low-speed chase in which police followed a white Bronco carrying Simpson around the Los Angeles area.
* In 1997, the Band was again disciplined for shows lampooning Catholicism and the Irish at a game against Notre Dame. The Band put on a show entitled "These Irish, Why Must they Fight?" Besides the mocking supposedly stereotypical Irish-Catholic behavior, there was a Riverdance formation, and a Potato Famine joke, drawing criticism [ Stanford News] ] for its "tasteless" portrayal of Catholics. Both the band and the Stanford President Gerhard Casper subsequently apologized for the band's behavior. [] ]
* In 2002 and 2006, the Band was sanctioned for off-the-field behavior, including violations of the University alcohol policy.
* In 2004, the Band drew national attention and Mormon ire for joking about polygamy, which was practiced by some Mormons until 1890 and is still practiced by certain splinter groups outside of the LDS Church. This occurred during a game against Brigham Young University. The Dollies appeared in wedding veils with the Band Manager of the time kneeling and "proposing" to each in turn as the announcer referred to marriage as "the sacred bond that exists between a man and a woman... and a woman... and a woman... and a woman... and a woman." [] The joke was later used multiple times by Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, himself a Mormon. [,2933,150975,00.html] []
*The band's hijinks were given a wider audience when they became the subject of Alan Alda's appearance on the "Not My Job" segment on National Public Radio's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!" on September 9, 2006. [ (listen here)]
* In 2006, the band was suspended by Stanford administrators when their former "Band Shak" was vandalized. After moving into a new $2.8 million facility, the previous Shak, a trailer that served as a temporary home for the band, was found with broken windows and profanities spray painted on the walls. Administrators believed members of the Band were responsible for the damage, as the band had believed the trailer was to be demolished the next day. The Band was placed on a provisional status for several months, and had many privileges taken away for the duration of the suspension, including the right to be freely student-run. [ [ Again, Stanford Band must face the music / Orchestra known for wild antics suspended as university investigates vandalism of 'Shak' ] ] . The band was also barred from performing at Halftime of the 2006 Big Game as a result. In March 2007, the University exonerated the individual Band members involved in the incident. It also charged the Band $8,000 for damages (though it initially estimated damages of $50,000). [ [ University exonerates Stanford marching band in vandalism case, San Francisco Chronicle, March 12, 2007] ] . In July 2007, the Band was fully reinstated, and in September 2007, the band had its alcohol probation lifted as well.

"The Play"

The Band's most infamous and controversial moment, however, had nothing to do with its irreverence. In the final four seconds of the 1982 Big Game against the University of California, Berkeley (Cal), band members (as well as players from both teams) ran out onto the field, thinking the game was over when ball-carrier Dwight Garner might have been "down". Despite this, Cal players continued to lateral back and forth, with Cal's Kevin Moen dodging through the band for a winning touchdown, which he ended by running over LSJUMB trombone player Gary Tyrrell in the end zone. [ YouTube] ] "The Play" is celebrated by Cal fans and inspires the ire of many Stanford fans. To this day, it remains one of the most famous and controversial plays in American football history. Fact|date=October 2008

In 2002, during the Big Game halftime show, the LSJUMB performed a humorous re-enactment of The Play. Special emphasis was placed on the allegation that Cal player Garner's knee touched the ground before his lateral; all band members performing the re-enactment froze in place at this stage, and a single member, carrying a large yellow arrow, ran out and repeatedly pointed at the "down" Garner. Officials at the time did not call Garner down and though no instant replay rule was in effect at the time, game tape appears inconclusive.

To this day the position of Band Manager is conferred from one generation to the next with 4 seconds left in the Big Game in commemoration of the play.

The Dollies

The Dollies, a five-member dance group, and the Stanford Tree, the University's "de facto" mascot (the "de jure" mascot is the color cardinal), operate under the band's aegis.

The Dollies, who are all female, are a dance group, rather than cheerleaders, per se. They tend to get the attention usually accorded cheerleaders though--more attention even than the official cheerleaders, which are part of the Stanford Athletic Department.

Dollie try-outs are held on "Dollie Day," when potential Dollies demonstrate their ability in front of the entire assembled band. Each year's new Dollie cadre is revealed at the annual "Dollie Splash," where the Dollies give their debut dance for the public followed by a dunking in the Stanford Claw.

Dollies serve one-year terms, are managed by their Dollie Daddy/Mama (the Band's assistant manager or "ass-man"), and choreograph all their own routines and design their own costumes. Traditional costume colors are red for the fall, cardinal for the winter, and white for the spring.


* When traveling on airplanes en masse, it is traditional for LSJUMB members to mimic the safety instructions of flight attendants in unison, including hand motions pointing to exits and demonstrating the oxygen masks by putting airsickness bags over the face and inhaling and exhaling. For example, on the trip to the January 1, 1993 Blockbuster Bowl, nearly all band members unclipped their safety belts from the seats to mimic the stewardess and clasp the belts over their heads.

* When reciting the full name of the Band, it is traditional to leave a pause between "Leland Stanford Junior" and "University Marching Band", particularly when announcing at stadiums; more formal introductions include the prelude "The one, the only, the truly incomparable" followed by the aforementioned "Leland Stanford Junior, University Marching Band." The entirety of this phrase is affectionately referred to as TOTOTTILSJUMB in writing by members of the Band.

* The traditional pre-game breakfast, the so-called "Breakfast of Champions", is beer and doughnuts. Big games such as the Big Game with Cal merit beer, doughnuts, and stogies.

* Alcoholic "rank drinks", sneaked into the football stadium and drunk "in ranks", are as extravagant as possible and vary from good to deliberately awful. 1991 saw the debut of the "tuna colada", possibly the rankest drink ever conceived. Though the band is no longer on alcoholic probation, it cannot bring drinks into the stadium due to rigorous oversight by the Athletic Department.

Albums of the LSJUMB

* The One, The Only (2008)
* This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things (2003)
* Ultrasound (1999)
* The Wind of Freedom Blow (Greatest Hits 1970-1998) (1998)
* Mirth Control (1995)
* The Band Is Not Helping (1991)
* Contraband (1987)
* Block S (1982)
* Starting Salary: $22,275.00 (1979)
* The Incomparables (1977)
* The Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (1974)
* The Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (1972)
* The Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (1970)

External links

* [ Stanford Band website]
* [ Videos of Stanford Band on]

Notes and References

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