The University of Texas and Longhorn Band are rooted in countless traditions and historic events. High standards of achievement are at the foundation of these institutions. The most important and lasting of all band traditions are the ever present pride and spirit. Longhorn Band, the largest organization on The University of Texas campus, is the backbone of school spirit on campus. We take the initiative at pep rallies and games in firing up Texas fans with their favorite yells, and generally add to the excitement that is so characteristic of Texas sporting events. Below are a few of examples of these Longhorn Band and University of Texas traditions.
The Longhorn Alumni Band
The Longhorn Alumni Band (LHAB) began in 1964 with 67 members, and today’s membership numbers over 3000. Each year, the LHAB gathers at a home football game to meet with old friends, make connections with new friends, and perform a halftime show for the Longhorn faithful. The Longhorn Alumni Band’s primary activities center around philanthropy, and the organization provides nearly $50,000 each year in scholarship support for current members of the Longhorn Band.
No University of Texas game is complete without the Longhorn Band’s deadly weapons — cowbells. These sonorous instruments are passed out to each band member at the start of a game. When rung, they produce a deafening sound, symbolic of our PRIDE and SPIRIT. Past experience (Texas vs. Arkansas, 1977) has proven that cowbells, rung by three hundred plus Longhorn Band members, can make more noise than an opposing team’s fans.
Big Bertha, the largest marching drum in the world, became the “SWEETHEART OF THE LONGHORN BAND” in 1955. Orignally built for the University of Chicago, long time benefactor of the Longhorn Band, D. Harold Byrd, and then director, Moton M. Crockett, purchased and transported her to her permenant home deep in the heart of Texas. For her performances at football games, she is graciously escorted by a group known as the “Bertha Crew”.
First performed in 1957, “Script Texas” was charted by then Longhorn Band Assistant Director, Richard Blair. The form consists of the entire band, led by the Drum Major, spelling ‘Texas’ in a continuous script writing. Some variation of the formation is performed every year, and sometimes featured in a joint show with the Longhorn Alumni Band.
Wall to Wall Band
“Wall to Wall Band” is another traditional drill annually performed by Longhorn Band. The band starts in one end-zone and expands to the other while playing “March Grandioso”. Before performing a counter-march in the opposite end-zone, Longhorn band covers the entire football field.
Originating in the 1920s, the Block ‘T’ is now performed during the pre-game show at all Unversity of Texas home football games. After forming the giant ‘T’, the band marches it to the end-zone for the Longhorn Football Team to run through as they enter the field. Variations of the formation can also be found during various Longhorn Band half-time performances.
Hat and Coat Ceremony
This ceremony is performed at the first home game in which the New Members will be wearing the full Longhorn Band uniform. The presentation of the hat and coat of the uniform represents the acceptance of the New Members into Longhorn Band.
New Member Beanie
The tradition of presenting new members of the band with an orange and white beanie began in the 1950’s. This distinguished badge is a symbol of the dedication, hard work, and pride demonstrated by ALL members of the band. Thousands of LHB new members have received the beanie as an honor and representation of affiliation with the Longhorn Band.
New Member Advisor Beanie
Passing of the New Member Advisor Beanie is a tradition which began in 1991. Embroidered on the vintage New Member beanie are the names of former New Member Advisors.
Each year at the Spring Banquet, the outgoing Band President presents a ring to the incoming President in a ceremony known as the Passing of the President’s Ring. The tradition began at the close of World War II when the parents of Curtis Popham, Longhorn Band Drum Major, who was killed in the war, gave Curtis’ University ring to the Band for this purpose.
Drum Major’s Belt Buckle
The Drum Major’s belt buckle is passed on to the new Drum Major at the annual Spring Banquet. Engraved on the back are the names of past Longhorn Band Drum Majors beginning in 1969.
Each spring, usually the first weekend in May, the Longhorn Band Spring Awards Banquet takes place. Scholarships are awarded, lettering awards are presented, the President’s Ring is passed on, the New Member Advisor Beanies are passed on, the Drum Major is presented with the Drum Major Buckle, and graduating students are recognized for their service.
The Byrd Room
Donated by the honorary President of the Longhorn Band, General D. Harold Byrd, the Byrd Room is an elegantly furnished lounge for use by Longhorn Band members. The room is used for formal receptions, TBS meetings, and is usually open to band members for studying or relaxing during the day.
Bevo, a Longhorn steer, is the University mascot. Stephen Pickney (LL.B. 1911) spearheaded a movement to provide a live mascot for the University of Texas, collecting $1.00 each from one hundred twenty-four alumni. On Thanksgiving Day, 1916, the frightened Bevo was dragged on to the field and formally presented to the students. This first mascot was branded by Aggies with “13-0” which was the score of the A&M victory the year before, but contrary to Aggie belief, is not the reason for the steer being named Bevo. The December 1916 issue of the Texas Exes Alcalde magazine contained an article by editor Ben Dyer (BA 1910) that described the Thanksgiving game and The University’s new mascot, stating: “His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!” Bevo was the name of a “near beer” sold by Anheuser-Busch during prohibition, but Bevo the mascot most likely got his name from a naming fad spurred by Gus Mager’s popular comic strips where the character’s names were their personality trait with an “o” tagged onto the end (i.e.: Groucho). The mascot, being a beeve, was fittingly named Bevo.
Hook ‘Em Horns Sign
The “Hook’em Horns” signal was introduced at a Friday night pep rally in Gregory Gym before the Texas Christian University football game in 1955. Clark, head yell leader, and his friend Henry Pitts decided that the sign, made by extending the index and little fingers and tucking the middle and ring finger beneath the thumb, would be appropriate for University of Texas students because it resembled the head of a Longhorn.
Smokey the Cannon
Cared for the the Texas Cowboys, Smokey’s thunderous roar is heard after each Longhorn football score.
Orange and White
The University colors, orange and white, were officially adopted by the regents on May 10, 1900, after a student vote. As early as 1885, students had displayed orange and white ribbons on special occasions. Athletic teams later unofficially adopted burnt Orange. The official colors, as used in the university seal, are focal orange and pure white.
The Texas Flags
On January 1, 1961, the University of Texas played Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl. By request of Mississippi, a large Texas flag was made for their half-time show so that they could salute the University of Texas and the state. Following the game, they presented the flag, as a gift, to Texas Governor Price Daniel who gave it to the Longhorn Band. The flag was so big, DiNino could not afford to use all the members of Longhorn Band needed to hold the flag on the field, so he gave it to the Athletic Department. The Athletic Department then turned over all rights and operations of the flag to Alpha Phi Omega. Today the flag measures 45 by 25 yards and weighs 400 pounds. It is the largest Texas flag in the world. At the beginning of every home football game and at some out-of-town games, members of Alpha Phi Omega take over the turf when they cover the field with a huge flag of Texas.
The center of The University of Texas campus is the tower of the Main Building. This University landmark may be seen standing majestically against the Austin skyline, and is visible for miles.
The Tower can be lit in many configurations to recognize the multitude of achievements that take place on campus each year. For a full explanation of these configurations, click here.