California Aggie Marching Band: A History

The Beginning

1908-1929

The University Farm School Opens

1908

The University Farm School opens in Davisville, offering courses in farming to an opening class of fifteen non-degree students and six degree students from the Berkeley campus.

Picnic Day Begins

1909

The first Picnic Day is held.

First Band Formed

1922

E. H. Barger of the veterinary science department forms an 18-member band to perform at football games, but interest in the band peters out during the last half of the decade - there just weren't many musicians to be found among the small, agriculturally oriented student body.

The White Shirt Becomes Official Uniform

1927

The white shirt becomes the official uniform of the student rooters at Aggie games. This decision is made because the white shirt is the only clothing item of the day that everyone owns.

Concert Band is Offered for the First Time

1929

Under Gittinger's direction, the campus offers Music 1: Concert Band for the first time. It is made up primarily of Aggie Bandsmen.

J. Price Gittinger is Hired

1929

An energetic young instructor, J. Price Gittinger, is hired to teach English and start a music program on campus. He begins organizing a band to play at football games and promote Aggie spirit on campus. 15 men volunteer to join. The organization is the beginning of the Aggie Band. It adopts the white student rooter shirt as its uniform. The band first rehearses on September 15th, and first performs on September 29th at the Davis railroad station as the football team returns from a victory against Oregon State. In its early years, the band does not march.

Aggie Band Does Not Form

1930

Due to a lack of interest, the Aggie Band does not form this year.

Forward, March!

1930-1945

Band is Formed Again

1931

Gittinger reforms the band, this time with two co-ed members.

ROTC Band is Formed

1936
  • Gittinger forms the ROTC Band, mainly from Aggie bandsmen wanting to fulfill the ROTC obligation required of male students attending land-grant colleges. This band extends practice and performances beyond the football season, giving the group stability and something more formal to wear - old, uncomfortable uniforms from the ROTC.

John Richard "Doc" King is Hired to Teach Marching

1938

John Richard "Doc" King, an inventive but rather shy pomologist in the Experiment Station who had band experience and played the piano, is recruited to teach the band to march. The first formations made are HELLO and CA.

First Official Uniforms

1939

The band gets its first uniforms - jackets, Sam Browne belts and caps. Members have to buy their own pants.

Band Marches Their First Picnic Day

1939

The band marches in its first Picnic Day parade, led by female drum majorette Mary Jeanne Gilhooley, one of the states top baton twirlers. Gilhooley, a popular and active student, would lead the band until 1942 when she was killed in a car accident.

Band Wins All Western Band Review

1939

The Aggie Band ties for first place with UCLA at the All Western Band Review.

Band Places Second in Western Review

1940

The band, made up of only 35 members, places second at the Review, ahead of all other UC campuses and losing only to USC, who's band has a membership of 150.

Campus Becomes Training Facility During WWII

1943 - 1945

During World War II the campus is turned over to the U.S. Army Signal Corps for use as a training facility.

Renewal, Reorganization, and Revitalization

1946-1961

Band Re-Forms

1946

After the war, the band re-forms with 36 men, most of them ex-Gls, led by drum majorette Evelyne Rowe. Rowe travels by separate car with chaperones to away games and is not allowed to date band members. Love prevails, however, and she later marries trombone player (and nowadays U.S. deputy secretary of agriculture) Richard Rominger.

Lawrence McArdell Becomes Faculty Director

1948

Lawrence McArdell is appointed faculty director and introduces popular songs into the band's repertoire, including "Goodnight, Irene" and "Hoop-Dee-Doo."

Red Hot Award is Formed

1948

The Cal Aggie Band Award Society is formed to promote participation in the band and fellowship of members. To become a member of the society and receive an award, a band member has to participate in all band functions for two semesters. The award persists to this day, now known as the Red Hot Award.

Recruiting Female Members Begins

1949

The band, which since 1946 had been all male, begins actively to recruit female members. Inclusion of women, an unusual practice for university bands at the time, doubles the band's size to more than 60 members during the 1950s.

Student Director Becomes a Position

1950

Director McArdell expands student management of the band with the addition of the student director.

Jerome Rosen Becomes Faculty Director

1953

CAMB Constitution is Written

1955

Provost Stanley Freeborn orders that a constitution for the band be drawn up after the Executive Committee of the Associated Students tries to eliminate the faculty director's role (notifying Professor Rosen in the middle of a football game). The action was prompted over what the committee viewed as encroachment upon its authority over student-funded activities. The constitution stipulates that the band is to be controlled largely by the student members with the advice of the faculty adviser; it launches a period of stability that lasts about 15 years.

Band Receives New Uniforms

1956

The band receives new uniforms, replacing ones bought secondhand from the UC Berkeley band after they considered them too old to wear.

Mav'rik "Bowler" Band Is Formed

1958

A small group of bandsmen - wearing Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts, Suspenders, ties and Bowler hats - begins playing for basketball games. This group, which was known as the Bowler Band, evolved into the Mav'rik band with its uniforms of jeans, white shirts, string ties and cowboy hats.

Larry Austin Becomes Faculty Director

1958

Larry Austin, former assistant director and arranger for the UC Berkley band, becomes faculty director and begins to vigorously recruit new members.

Davis Joins the University of California System

1959

The campus becomes a general campus of the University of California, with authority to add new majors and expand graduate programs.

The Cal Aggie All Male Marching Band

1961-1973

Band Becomes All-Male

1961

The band, including a majority of the female members, votes to become all male, in conformance with common practice with the belief that an all-male band would be "more spirited, harder playing and harder marching." Because separate accommodations are no longer needed during away games, it is also cheaper.

Band Plays at World's Fair

1962

The band plays at the World's fair in Seattle, partially funded by a benefit concert. One appreciative audience member was Soviet Cosmonaut Gherman Titov. The long bus trip up and back marks the debut of an unofficial songbook, a compilation of the band's more bawdy songs and limericks, which would get members in trouble in the '90s.

First Retreat is Held

1962

The first band retreat is held. It was here that the freshmen "learned what it was meant to be Aggie Bandsmen." In later years, activities at the retreat, some of which the administration felt crossed the line into hazing, were modified.

Arthur Woodbury becomes faculty director.

1964

Women's Opportunities Brought Into Question

1970

Chancellor James Meyer establishes a task force to study opportunities for women on the Davis campus.

Traditions Change

1971

As school spirit gives way to student activism and Homecoming and Pajamarino are discarded as outmoded traditions, the Aggie band also becomes a target for criticism for its lack of sophistication and for its promotion of the university.

Campaigns Begin to End All-Male Status

1972
  • The California Aggie prints a letter from a parent wondering why his daughter cannot join the band, and student Anne Glicken begins a campaign to end the band's all­ male status. "Marching bands are a lot of fun and the female population of UCD shouldn't be deprived of that kind of enjoyment merely on the basis of their sex," she writes in a California Aggie editorial. Band members counter that the presence of women would make them feel inhibited and stifle their creativity.

Bands Plays at Boardwalk Bowl

1972

The band travels to Atlantic City for the Boardwalk Bowl, the Aggies' first bowl game since 1951. The members perform on the Boardwalk in the rain for no one.

Equal Rights Amendment Passes

1972

The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, and many college campuses begin to evaluate organizations that exclude women.

Women Join the Band-Uh!

1973 - 1974

On the advice of the university counsel, the ASUCD Senate votes to freeze the band funds until women are admitted. That fall Anne Gliken and several other women join the band.

Turbulence and Transition

1975-1979

University Cracks Down

1975

After an inappropriate Portland State show, the university administration requires the group to adopt a set of guidelines concerning initiation practices, membership and script content.

Gaffing Incidents

1976

Complaints about the band's behavior continue and escalate over the band's practice of "gaffing" (taking memorabilia from other universities). The band is put on probation for a year beginning the following January.

New Constitution Written

1978

Probation continues until December as the band drafts a new constitution, dictation conduct, membership requirements, selection and duties of officers and creation of an Executive Board consisting of an ASUCD-selected manager and elected officers. Many band members feel the new arrangement weakens their control of the organization.

Lawrence Anderson Becomes Faculty Director

1978

Lawrence Anderson replaces Duane Cunningham as faculty director.

Warren D. Mooney Award Created

1979

Alumnus Warren Mooney offers the band $15,000 if the members raise an equal amount and increase membership to 100 before Jan. 1,1983. In his honor, the band creates the Warren D. Mooney Award for band members who have participated for three of more years.

A New Organization

1980-1991

ASUCD Budget Crisis

1980

In the midst of a severe ASUCD budget crisis, the band agrees to take over funding of the band, severing its ties to ASUCD after 51 years.

Band Begins Attending Women's Basketball Games

1981

Coach Pam Gill requests that the band attend women's basketball games. At first only freshmen are required to go, but as each new class becomes accustomed to the practice, participation grows and the whole band begins showing up within a few years.

Band Travels to Division II Playoffs

1982

The band accompanies the football team to McAllen, Texas, for the Division II playoffs.

First Album Recorded

1983

Bands Travels to Romania and Austria

1985

The band travels to Romania and Austria at the invitation of the Friendship Ambassador's Foundation, an East Coast organization that promotes goodwill with Eastern European countries. The trip is financed by fund-raising activities and the members themselves

New Tensions Arise

1992-2004

CAAA vs. US Department of Education

1992

A sophomore sousaphone member files sexual harassment charges against the band after the student director refers to her using gender-oriented obscenities. The controversy grows over the coming weeks as three other students add charges of hazing, racism and homophobia, and the band is placed on probation. An administrative fact­ finding report clears the band of the latter charges, but finds that certain band practices and traditions - including cheers, buttons, and locker decorations - are characterized by sexual innuendo and constitute sexual harassment as defined by university policy. Band
supporters claim the incident was blown out of proportion, and members of the Cal Aggie Marching Band Alumni Association file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in response to the administration's plans to tighten control over the band. (The complaint is later withdrawn when alumni are satisfied with the revised band policy.)

Jonathan Elkus is Named Faculty Director

1992

Probation Ends

1993

A I 0-month probation ends after the band's constitution and operation guidelines are revised to retain the group's student-run status while placing more responsibility on the band and its officers. Band officers begin reviewing all buttons and cheers for appropriateness.

NCAA Elite Eight Tournament

1997

The band travels 36 hours nonstop by bus to Grand Forks, N.D., to play for the women's basketball team in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight tournament. The band's halftime performance steals the show, drawing a standing ovation and a front-page story in the Grand Forks Herald.

Students Vote to Create ARC

1999

Students pass a facilities initiative that will finance construction of an Activities and Retention(Recreation) Center, which will include new office, changing, storage and practice space for the band.

Jonathan Elks Retires

2002

Faculty director, Jonathan Elkus, retires, leaving the band without a new director as a three-year search suspends any new hiring.

UC-Davis Becomes a Division I School

2003

The student body votes to turn UC Davis into a Division I school, in recognition in its increasing size and athletic talent. This move spells out immense changes for the band in regards to attendance of football and basketball games, especially away games.

Band-Uh! Celebrates 75 Years

2004

The band, now 200 strong, celebrates its 75th Anniversary with an Aggie Band-uh Extravaganz-uh!

Battle of the Bands Lasts 12 Hours

2004

Picnic Day's annual Battle of the Bands lasts a record twelve hours with the
Aggies battling against Humboldt State until two in the morning. The Aggie Band comes . out victorious.

Band Moves Into ARC

2004