Million Dollar Band (marching band)

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Million Dollar Band
Million Dollar Band logo.gif
School University of Alabama
Location Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Conference SEC
Founded 1912
Director Dr. Kenneth Ozzello
Assistant director Mr. Randall Coleman
Mr. Neal Flum
Mr. Steve Simpson
Members 408 (2017)
Fight song "Yea Alabama"
[[File:Crimson and white jackets
Crimson pants
Crimson shakos with white plumes|frameless|upright=1.25|center]]
Website Official MDB site

The Million Dollar Band is the official name for the marching band for the University of Alabama, located in Tuscaloosa. The entire band performs at all home games, while varying in size for away games or games in neutral sites. In 2003, the band was awarded the Sudler Trophy, an honor which is given to the top bands in the United States.


The band always performs prior to each home football game.

The band was formed in 1912 with just 14 members under director Dr. Gustav Wittig. Four years later, in 1917, the band became a military band and was student-led until 1927. The band earned its name during a football game between Alabama and Georgia Tech, a game which the Yellow Jackets won 33–7. The band struggled for funds, having to solicit money from local merchants, to travel to games off campus. An Alabama alumnus, W. C. Pickens, was asked "[...] what do you have at Alabama?" by an Atlanta-based sportswriter. Pickens replied only, "A million dollar band."[1][2]

In 1936, Colonel Carleton K. Butler took over the band and led it to national prominence among collegiate marching bands.[2] He remained director for the next 33 years until Mr. Earl Dunn took charge in 1969.[2] After a two-year stint at the Capstone, Dr. James Ferguson was named director, where he remained until 1983.[2] Legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant often voiced his support for the band during his tenure, giving them partial credit during victories.[3] Dr. Kenneth Ozzello has been in charge of the band since 2002, taking over for Ms. Kathryn B. Scott.[2] One year after he was named director, the band won the prestigious Sudler Trophy, awarded by the John Philip Sousa Foundation.[4]


Name Years[2]
Dr. Gustav Wittig 1912–1917
N/A (Student-led) 1917–1927
Captain H. H. Turner 1927–1934
Colonel Carleton K. Butler 1935–1968
Mr. Earl Dunn 1969–1971
Dr. James Ferguson 1971–1983
Ms. Kathryn B. Scott 1984–2002
Dr. Kenneth Ozzello 2003–present


The band performing a "Booming Big Bama Spell Out" before a football game
  • Alma Mater - When Dr. Ozzello became director in 2003 the MDB began to sing the Alma Mater after every Friday and game day rehearsal, as well as after every game, win or lose.
  • Band Dismissal - At the end of every single rehearsal, game, etc. someone shouts "What do we say at Alabama?". The Leadership team responds with "Go Bama!" and then all members shout "Roll Tide!" This is similar to a scene from the 1995 movie Crimson Tide.
  • Elephant Stomp - Prior to every home game the MDB performs the elephant stomp. Each section warms up then meets on the steps of the Gorgas library. The MDB and cheerleaders lead the crowd in several cheers in a short pep rally, usually lasting less than 10 minutes. The MDB then lines up on Colonial Drive and marches to Bryant–Denny Stadium.


  • Yea Alabama - The University of Alabama fight song
  • Tusk - From the Fleetwood Mac version, "Tusk" being shorthand for the university's home city of Tuscaloosa, accompanied by the school's dancing elephant mascot, Big Al.
  • Rammer Jammer - Cheer played after a team victory.
  • Basket Case - Beginning in mid-1997 the Million Dollar Band began playing the Green Day song "Basket Case" in the break between the 3rd and 4th quarters. This continued until midway through the 2006 season, when the Marketing Department decided to play "Sweet Home Alabama" over the PA system instead. The MDB continued to play the song, just at different points of the game.[5] "Sweet Home Alabama" was still played during 2007 up to the Houston game. Since that game the MDB has played "Basketcase" during the 4th quarter break once again. Fred Chang arranged this piece.[6]
  • Low Rider - Song played by the Trombone section in the fourth quarter of the football game. It is counted off with sixteen taps on a cow bell. It has been in existence since at least 1986, when it was recorded on an LP. Mark Foster wrote the arrangement from a similar version that was played at his high school. Bruce Chirrey was the first cow bell wielder.
  • Defense Cheer # 1 - Since 2012, the band has used the song "Look Down" from the musical Les Misérables as the main defense cheer. This arrangement was taken from the 1996 Halftime Show "Les Miserables". The band currently has six defense cheers.
  • The band also plays upon occasion You Can Call Me Al and the theme from the television show The A-Team.


The MDB performs side-by-side with the Clemson marching band prior to the 2008 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff.


  1. ^ "Million Dollar band". University of Alabama. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "History and Facts". University of Alabama. Retrieved 2010-12-26. 
  3. ^ Clem Gryska (2007-10-01). Tradition: Million Dollar Band. CBS Sports. Event occurs at 01:14. We played well, very fortunate. And our band was just terrific. They helped us win the ball game. 
  4. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Ozzello". University of Alabama. 2010-12-26. 
  5. ^ "Students Miss "Basket Case"". November 17, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Song Returns to Fourth Quarter". November 8, 2007. 

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