(From the Pep
Band Publicity Site, which details the banning of the Pep Band from
halftime shows in 2001.)
Sit back and relax as I tell you the epic tale of our vested heroes. The Pep Band can trace its deepest roots back to 1909 when it first appeared in Corks and Curls, the UVA yearbook. In 1936, under the direction of Dr. Robert Lutz, the Band grew from twenty to forty members and performed at several basketball games. In 1937, at sixty members strong, the band was "ranked with the best in the South" by The College Topic, the predecessor of the Cavalier Daily. In 1941, the band did what would shame it for years to come; it marched onto the field for a half-time performance. This, along with World War II, proved to reduce the band's membership so that by 1964 there were once again only 20 members, and no more field performances. For the next several years, the band's goal was to exist until a major rebuilding program could be started. The band began to change its emphasis to school songs and 'pop' tunes, and began gaining members. Starting in 1971, the band performed at all home football games (and welcomed our first co-eds). In 1972, the Band saw even further growth and changes, until finally, the next year, the miracle that is the modern Virginia Pep Band was given birth by our Grandpappys, Hugh Riley, and Steve Mershon, bless their immortal souls.
Yes, the Pep Band was founded in 1973 by a group of students who were really sick of high school bands playing half-times at Scott Stadium (a state-of-the-art facility at that time), which was a common occurrence following the demise of the old UVA marching band. This inspiring group of young entrepreneurs believed a scramble-style band focusing on humor would succeed where a normal band had failed - people might actually be enticed to remain in their seats during half-time (or even come back for the second half). These Jeffersons and Washingtons of Pep Band lore looked to the Leland Stanford Band, the grand-daddy of all scramble bands, for inspiration. In the fall of 1974, a sixty-member Pep Band was ready to take the field. With the addition of the Pep Band and a football team that went 1-10 (a better than average season back then), it can be said that Virginia fans had a lot to laugh at that year. A lot has changed since then; most notable, it seems that more people now come to watch the football team play instead of only to hear the band, but we are still the Virginia Pep Band.
That means that we are still an entirely student-run organization. Our officers make all of the decisions for the band and have the ultimate responsibility for what the Band does. Being student-run means we have the freedom to do whatever we want -- almost. We have the freedom to be as creative and innovative as we can be. We have the right and ability to do what we do by ourselves. Being student-run also carries with it the responsibility to make sure we are responsible in what we choose to do. Along with this, comes the great dedication for which the Pep Band has always been known. No organization on grounds works harder or does more than the Pep Band. We are student-run because we work so hard and we get the job done.
For those of you who are still wondering what a scramble band is, it is an endangered species of organizations seeking the lighter, more fun side of life which has almost been censored out of existence. Today, we are joined as part of this elite group by Princeton, Harvard, Penn, Dartmouth, Brown, Rice, and the model for us all, Stanford. As a scramble band, we constantly parody the style of "regular" marching bands by running, reeling, and crawling from formation to formation, playing music people actually like to hear, and incorporating a written script that explains the meaning of our "formations". We focus on the satirical humor that covers the topics of the day, but are continually looking for any possibly field show venues that allow us to be humorous and creative. The written script is actually what makes our shows so enjoyable to some and so obnoxious to others. In recent years, we have not performed fully humor based-microphone shows in Scott Stadium due to stricter limitations put on us by the Athletic Department. However, with each passing year, we make improvements, gain leverage, and get a few steps closer to our old and creative past.
In 1993, under the Athletic Director Jim Copeland, the band was informed it would be replaced by a "sports band" under the direction of Dwight Purvis. The Virginia Pep Band, as a CIO, did not join this UVA sports band and instead remained the Pep Band and supporters of football by playing outside the stadium and sitting on the hill. The Band was NEVER kicked out of the stadium, but instead chose to leave because they refused to join a band that wasn't student run, scramble-style or humor based. After "sports band" could not grow beyond ~40 members even with resorting to the recruitment of Charlottesville residents, the pep band returned as the band in Scott Stadium after being asked to return under the pressure of fans toward the athletic dept, but did so under the agreement that Mr. Purvis would continue to act as an intermediary, and that he and the student director would approve the shows. Unfortunately, the band also gave up the microphone, a key element in humor based shows. Eventually, Mr. Purvis moved away from Pep Band responsibilities and the band became solely student governed while reporting to the Sports Promotions office. In the meantime, the band eventually regained mic'ed shows, yet continues to be censored by the Athletic Department.
the Virginia Pep Band, Inc. All Rights Reserved.