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Shortly after the University of Southern California was founded in 1880, a group of musicians first came together to form what would become the USC TROJAN MARCHING BAND (TMB). Now the largest spirit organization on campus, the band has developed into one of the most exciting and innovative collegiate marching bands in the country. Featuring over 300 passionate students from nearly every major at USC, the TMB is a prominent and visible representative of the university with over 350 engagements per year. It has truly earned its nickname, “The Spirit of Troy,” for its commitment to ’SC and its tireless support of Trojan athletics.
Over the course of a single football season, The Spirit of Troy entertains hundreds of thousands of fans in stadiums across the country and millions more on national television. In fact, the band has not missed a Trojan football game, at home or on the road, since 1987.
The Spirit of Troy’s commitment to USC Athletics is not limited to football. From volleyball to soccer, baseball to crew, the band is there to root the Trojans on to victory. During the spring, The Spirit of Troy becomes the USC Basketball Band and attends all of the men’s and women’s home games. When the Trojans or Women of Troy advance to the postseason, the band travels to the “Big Dance” as well, including an appearance at the 2007 East Regional in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Trojan Marching Band has tripled in size since Dr. Arthur C. Bartner became its director in 1970. With the assistance of long-time arranger Tony Fox, Bartner has built the band into a world-renowned performing group with frequent appearances at special events throughout the globe. When traveling internationally, the band has performed at local sports events. The TMB appeared at rugby and Australian-rules football matches in Sydney, a professional baseball game in Japan, and — in 2008 — a Brazilian club soccer match. The TMB has also received worldwide exposure with appearances at major sports events, including three Super Bowls, three World Series games, the 1994 World Cup, and the 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Because of its frequent exposure on the small and silver screens, the TMB has become known as “Hollywood’s Band.” The Spirit of Troy can be seen in such films as The Naked Gun and the Academy Award-winning Forrest Gump. Indeed, the Academy Awards telecast itself has featured the band three times: in 1976, 2000, and 2009. At the 81st Annual Academy Awards, the drumline — in top hats and tuxes — accompanied Beyoncé Knowles and Hugh Jackman in a Baz Luhrmann-produced salute to the Hollywood musical. Earlier in 2009, the band appeared at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, collaborating with British alternative rock group Radiohead on one of the most acclaimed performances of the night. This was the TMB’s second appearance on the Grammys in five years.
Dating back to John Philip Sousa’s appearance with the band in 1924, the band has continuously attracted famous guest artists. Henry Mancini, Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, John Dolmayan and Shavo Odadjian from System of a Down, and USC Alumnus Dexter Holland of The Offspring have all appeared with the TMB. The Spirit of Troy made its own guest appearances with the rock group Fleetwood Mac on its 1979 album Tusk and its reunion album The Dance in 1997. Combined, the records sold over seven million copies, earning the band worldwide notoriety and two platinum albums, a feat unmatched by any other collegiate band. More recently, in 2003 the band recorded a version of The Offspring single “Hit That,” which was released worldwide.
During its summer vacations, the band stays busy traveling the world as goodwill ambassadors for the university. The Spirit of Troy performed at the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France; at a private reception in 2002 for First Lady Laura Bush in Prague; on the Great Wall of China in 2004; in front of the Roman Colosseum in 2006; and on Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach in 2008. The band has also had the privilege of performing at four World Expositions in the last 20 years, including Australia 1988, Spain 1992, Portugal 1998, and most recently Japan 2005, where the band was the featured entertainer at the EXPO’s United States Day. The Spirit of Troy was also a part of the 800-strong All-American College Marching Band – directed by Dr. Bartner – that performed at the 1984 Olympic Games. It was the band’s second appearance at the Summer Olympics. In 1932, it formed the 10th Olympic Braid at the Los Angeles Games.