Here is your chance to order a piece of Maroon Band history. Each signature print, created by MSU Band alumna Barbara Howell and endorsed by the Famous Maroon Band, chronicles the different stages of the band's history by recognizing the contributions made by each Director of Bands. See the below for a thumbnail and description of each print.
If you are interested in owning a piece of Maroon Band history, download, print and follow the instructions on the order form.
The present fight song, Hail State, was composed by J. B. Peavey of Meridian and was the winner in a contest sponsored by the college to find a new fight song. Adopted in 1937, it is one of the finest and most distinctive collegiate fight songs in the country.
In 1911 Carl Leake became the first "official" band director, although it was only a part-time appointment together with his woodshop teaching duties on campus. Professor Leake was a native of Iowa who conducted a number of military and city bands before coming to A & M. At A & M Leake taught band in the woodshop, which is presently the Concrete Structure Lab on campus. Putting his carpentry skills to use he made wooden music stands for a 40-piece band, some of which were still in use in the early 1950s. Another interesting requirement of the job was that the director furnished all of the music for the band. Unfortunately, most of Carl Leake's music was destroyed when Old Main burned in 1959. Carl Leake died unexpectedly during a fishing trip in the summer of 1919.
Henry Wamsley became director in 1922. He was to remain at A & M for the next 30 years. Wamsley was a native of Arthur, Illinois, who had served in the U.S. Nav and afterward attended the University of Illinois for a short time. He was lured south in 1912 by an ad in Billboard Magazine which said, "Want a music education? Come to Mississippi A & M!" In 1924 the band had its first performance at the halftime of a football game. The 1926 A & M-Alabama football game was played at the East Mississippi Fair in Meridian. During halftime a contest was to be held between the bands of A & M and Alabama with the winner receiving a trophy to take home and display on their campus. Unknown to the Alabama band, the members of the A & M band had purchased new uniforms which consisted of maroon coats and white trousers. Thus breaking the military tradition, the band planned to premier these at the game. The A & M band performed first, and after the thunderous ovation they received for their performance, the Alabama band refused to go on. The members of the A & M band were numbered 40 at this time and thus became known as "The Famous Forty" of Mississippi A & M. The trophy which they won is still proudly displayed in the band hall at the present time. In 1926 he was appointed postmaster at State College in addition to his job as band director. He held his dual capacity until he retired.
In 1952 Wamsley was allowed to resign and W. Thomas West became only the third official director of the A & M Band in 50 years! West was a graduate of LSU where he played under Bruce Jones. After a career as a professional musician he built an outstanding band at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi. The first New Materials Clinic was held in 1953 as West attempted to lay the groundwork for the new music department by assisting high school and junior college band directors find new music. In 1957 the Music Department was established in the College of Education, and West was named the department chairman in addition to his duties as band director. By 1967 the band had grown to 186 and West resigned his position as Director of Bands in order to become full-time chairman of the growing Music Department.
In 1959 Peyton Crowder was named assistant director. Crowder was an outstanding arranger and arranged much of the halftime music which the band played until 1978. Peyton Crowder followed W.T. West as director, and in the late 1960s and early in 1970s the band grew dramatically, thus following the trend of most college bands during this time. The first Stage Band Festival was held in 1968 and the first Junior High Band Festival was held on campus in 1968. The All-Star Band was added as a part of the New Materials Clinic in 1970. In 1972 the MSU Symphonic Band presented a concert for the Southern Division of the College Band Directors National Association in Baton Rouge. The band reached its maximum size in history in 1975 when it had 230 members. In 1978 Peyton Crowder resigned as Director of Bands in order to devote his full time to teaching within the Music Department.
James Hejl, a graduate of the Universities of Texas and Michigan who had spent five years as assistant director at the University of Texas, assumed the position of Director of Bands. Yet another chapter was added to the story of the Maroon Band with the establishment of the Maroon Alumni Band in 1979. This organization was formed to allow former band members to get together at least once a year to renew old friendships and meet band members from other years. At the first meeting of the Alumni Band over 100 members attended and marched at halftime of the MSU-Marshall game with the Maroon Band.
Kent Sills became band director in 1983, serving until 1997 as the band's membership swelled to more than 300, making it the largest student organization on campus.