ABOVE: The Michigan band, 1897.
ON THIS DATE in 1896, nearly 30 musicians gathered at the University of Michigan’s Harris Hall to form one of the most celebrated of all college bands. Seventeen-year-old Harry DePont, who had called that first meeting, would pronounce the band’s first gig, on February 22, 1897, “a hit.”
By the fall of 1898 the Michigan band was appearing at all the school’s football games, including a rousing victory over the University of Chicago that prompted a twenty-one-year-old student named Louis Elbel to write a fight song called “The Victors.”
John Philip Sousa would later called “The Victors” “the greatest college fight song ever written.”