Million Dollar Band turns 100


The University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band is reaching an important anniversary. {}The marching band's 100th anniversary will be marked with the Centennial Celebration concert featuring directors from the past 100 years. {}It will be held September 21st. {}Alabama Wind Ensemble Centennial Concert will be followed by a Centennial Gala where members and alumni will receive commemorative rings.{}On Saturday, Sept. 22, The University of Alabama Alumni Band will perform with the Million Dollar Band during the halftime show at the football game with Florida Atlantic University. Later, a piece of commemorative art commissioned especially for the Million Dollar Band will be revealed. {}"The band's sound has changed throughout the years, but the spirit associated with it hasn't," said Ken Ozzello, director of the Million Dollar Band since 2003. "It's important to celebrate that tradition."The band formed during the 1912-13 school year, the band has its roots in UA's military background and was formed as a way of training students to march as a unit. The name "Million Dollar Band" was first used in 1922 by W. C. "Champ" Pickens, an Alabama alumnus and former football team manager. {}The most widely accepted version of the story is rooted in the band's trip to the 1922 away game against Georgia Tech. Because the band's budget at the time was little more than what it spends on T-shirts and water bottles today, members were forced to raise money just to cover the cost of the over-crowded bus ride to Georgia.During that game, won by the Yellowjackets 33-7, an Atlanta sportswriter asked Pickens, "You don't have much of a team, what do you have at Alabama?" Pickens replied, "A million-dollar band." The name, now more appropriate than sarcastic, stuck.More than 25,000 students have played in the band in the last 100 years. Now, the band boasts more than 400 members, making it the largest student organization on campus. The group has performed before hundreds of audiences at football games on college campuses across the United States.