Why Is Alabama’s Band Called the Million Dollar Band?

    The Alabama Crimson Tide play on Monday at the Rose Bowl, and their marching band named the "Million Dollar Band" will perform, too.

    The University of Alabama has proven to be a school of success, particularly on the football field. In recent years, other sports like the men’s basketball team have found success at the highest level. One aspect of the school that might not get much attention comes in the form of music notes on a sheet instead of stats in a box score.

    There is a lot of history behind the Alabama marching band that might not be known by the general public. That includes the history behind the name “Million Dollar Band.” Let’s dive into the history of the band and how they got their nickname.

    History of the Million Dollar Band

    Alabama’s band began in 1912 with just 14 members representing the group under the direction of Dr. Gustav Wittig. There was a short time when the band was led by the students before bringing in Captain H.H. Turner in 1927.

    There is some dispute over where the name “Million Dollar Band” came from, but the most common story comes from a matchup against Georgia Tech.

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    Back in 1922, the Crimson Tide lost to the Yellow Jackets 33-7. After the game, a reporter spoke with prominent Alabama figure Champ Pickens asking him what Alabama does have — they didn’t perform well in the football game. Pickens’s reply was apparently “A Million Dollar Band.”

    Since then, the band has had much success, winning multiple national titles and performing on the biggest stages. Those events include multiple bowl games, governor inaugurations, and President Harry S. Truman’s inauguration in 1949.

    Their current director, Dr. Kenneth Ozzello, has been in masterful command of the group since 2003. Ozzello and the Million Dollar Band won the Sudler Trophy. which is awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation for the best marching band at the college level.

    The band took part in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. Alabama’s football team is taking on the Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl on Monday as part of the College Football Playoff.

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