UCLA Bruin Marching Band

The Solid Gold Sound of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band represents the university at major athletic and extracurricular events. During the fall marching season, this 250-member band performs at the Rose Bowl for UCLA Bruin home football games. Pregame shows by the band aim to build crowd energy and enthusiasm with traditional UCLA songs like "Strike Up the Band for UCLA", "Bruin Warriors", and "The Mighty Bruins". Throughout the game, the band performs custom-arranged rock and pop songs, as well as the traditional fight songs and cheers of the university. The UCLA Varsity Band appears at basketball games and other athletic contests in Pauley Pavilion. In 2018, the Bruin Marching Band was featured on the Muse album "Simulation Theory" performing the Super Deluxe version of the song "Pressure."

The Solid Gold Sound of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band
LocationLos Angeles, California
ConferencePac-12 Conference
DirectorKen Fisher
Interim staffKen Fisher
Associate Directorvacant
Navy Blue wool trousers and True Blue coat with gold and white trim, knee length gold capes on the left shoulder, white shoes, white gloves, shako hats with white 12" feather plumes

The UCLA band program, which includes the Marching and Varsity Bands, the Wind Ensemble and the Symphonic Band, is in the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. Band appearances at athletic events are funded primarily by student registration fees, a direct allocation from the Chancellor's Office and donations to the Solid Gold Sound Club.

In 1993, the UCLA Bruin Marching Band was awarded the Sudler Trophy, an award bestowed on one university marching band every year. Described by a Los Angeles Times reporter as "[t]he Heisman Trophy of the collegiate band world",[1] the award does not represent the winner of any championship, but rather a band surrounded by great music and tradition that has become respected nationally.

All marching members and teaching assistants in the Bruin Marching Band are full-time UCLA students.


The Solid Gold Sound

The UCLA Marching Band marches in a drum corps style with low mark times and glide steps. Field formations include fast moving precision drill progressions, letter blocks, pictures, concert arcs, and the famous Cursive UCLA formation. The band performs many different styles of shows, depending upon the occasion.

The exception to the drum corps marching style is the traditional pregame "run-on" where the band rapidly high-steps onto the field into the block letter U-C-L-A formation.


In 1925, at the Vermont Avenue campus, the UCLA Marching Band originated as a 50-piece ROTC unit under the direction of W. G. Powell. The band was part of the welcoming group when John Philip Sousa visited Los Angeles in 1928, and were directed by Sousa in the performance of "Stars and Stripes Forever".[2] At that time, the director was Ben Laietsky, a member of Sousa's band. The band remained a military group until 1934. In 1935, under the direction of Leroy Allen, the group became an integral part of campus life, providing music at rallies and games. The original uniforms were military style, with military caps and waist-length capes.[3]

Under directors C. B. Hunt and Patton McNaughton, the band increased in size to 128 members by 1947.

Clarence Sawhill and Kelly James 1952-1982

In 1952, Clarence Sawhill became director of bands. F. (Freeman) Kelly James became the director of the marching band, a position he would hold until suffering a stroke at the UCLA-Cal football game in 1980.[4] Sawhill and James grew the UCLA band program to include a 100-piece Concert Band, an 80-piece Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a 144-piece Marching Band, and a 60-piece Varsity Band.

In the 1950s the UCLA Marching Band uniforms were gold/yellow jackets with navy blue pants, blue shakos and white shoes. The band marched in a military style. The band appeared in color on the cover of the November 26, 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated.[5] It is one of the few so honored beginning with the University of Oklahoma marching band (1954), the Princeton University Band (1955), and later, The Ohio State University Marching Band (1958). This marks the first appearance by any UCLA organization on the cover of the magazine.

In the 1960s and 1970s the band emulated the Queen's Guard. The band had a similar marching style, including the distinctive arm swinging, but also having the high "chair" step. The uniform pants were school colors blue and black trim, and imitation bearskin (or tall busby) hats. In the early 1960s, the uniform coats were gold. later the uniform coats were dark blue. The shoes were black with white spats.[3]

In 1961, the band made a European Tour which included performances in Denmark, France, Austria, Germany, England and Switzerland.

In 1972, women were admitted to the UCLA Band, as well as other college marching bands around the country as a response to the Title IX educational amendment. Many marching bands, including the UCLA Band, had women members or a women's auxiliary unit during World War II, but the bands gradually became all-male organizations after the war.

In 1973, the band wore gold jackets, navy blue pants, navy blue turtleneck sweaters, and no hat, for one game. They were never used after that.[3]

In 1977, the school purchased new uniforms that were royal blue with yellow trim. The large overcoats had a white front with block vertical UCLA letters. There were tall white plush busby hats with blue and yellow plumes.[3]

Thomas Lee and Gordon Henderson

In 1985, the band ordered newly designed uniforms, in the current military style. These uniforms were designed with band member input to replace the brightly colored 1977 uniforms. The uniforms consisted of navy blue wool trousers and coat with gold trim and white, knee-length, gold capes on the left shoulder. The shoes were changed to white. White gloves were standard as well. The large bearskin hats were replaced by Shako hats with white 12" feather plumes. An all-powder blue uniform was prototyped, but rejected in favor of the navy blue. The color guard did wear powder blue uniform coats and skirts similar in style to the new uniforms for two years.

In 2007 the band was outfitted with new uniforms at the USC game. The coats were the then official "True Blue" color adopted by UCLA in 2004. Other elements from the 1985 uniforms were retained.[3]

In 1985, Thomas Lee came from the University of Texas to be the Director of Bands and Director of the Wind Ensemble.

The UCLA Bruin Marching Band was the 1993 recipient of the Sudler Trophy, presented by the John Philip Sousa Foundation in recognition of the Band's tradition of excellence and innovation.[6]

The band became part of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2007 when the departments of Music, Ethnomusicology and Musicology were combined. Musician and recording executive Herb Alpert gave $30 million to UCLA in November 2007, the single largest individual gift to music higher education in the western United States.

Lee retired from UCLA in 2012, and Dr. Travis Cross was appointed the new Wind Ensemble conductor in 2013.


For the football pregame show, the UCLA Marching Band traditionally opens with the Bruin Fanfare and Strike Up The Band for UCLA, a gift from George and Ira Gershwin to UCLA. It was adapted from their showtune "Strike Up the Band", and was presented to UCLA at an All-University Sing held in Royce Hall during Fall 1936.[7] The Star Spangled Banner is played by the band in concert formation. Then the band moves into the script UCLA formation to the tune of Bruin Warriors. The band marches off the field to The Mighty Bruins, composed in 1984 by Academy Award-winning composer Bill Conti to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the UCLA Alumni Association.

Following all athletic contests, the band plays the UCLA Alma Mater "Hail to the Hills of Westwood". After victories, this is followed by "Rover".

Away game appearances

The entire UCLA Bruin Marching Band travels to the San Francisco Bay area each fall for either the Stanford or Cal game. This tradition began in 1931, when the band traveled to the Stanford game by ship from Los Angeles. Beginning in 1989, a portion of the band has taken regular season trips to football games at Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Miami, Ohio State, Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Arizona State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

In 2006, the entire UCLA Bruin Marching Band traveled to South Bend, Indiana, for a game at the University of Notre Dame.

Bowl game appearances

The UCLA Bruin Marching Band has made appearances at major post season college football bowl games throughout the country:

In 1980, 144 members of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band performed together with the Oregon State University Marching Band at a regular season football game for the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan.

1984 Olympics

In 1984, 125 members of the Band performed in the 736-member All American Marching Band at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles under the direction of Arthur C. Bartner. UCLA Bruin Marching Band Director Gordon Henderson served as an Assistant Director and Drill Designer and was in charge of the 144-member Trumpet Section. A small group of these students performed at various sports venues during the games, including those for Cycling, Gymnastics, Archery, Modern Pentathlon and Tennis.

Other events

UCLA Tuba players in Pauley Pavilion
  • The UCLA Bruin Marching Band has entertained crowds at NFL professional football games on many occasions, for the Los Angeles Raiders, the Los Angeles Rams, and the San Francisco 49er's.
  • Fifty members of the Band, along with six members of the UCLA Dance Team, performed in the Chinese New Year Day Parade in Hong Kong in January 2006. The band spent six days exploring the city and performing at several venues. The parade was broadcast live all over the Asian continent. The band returned to Hong Kong in 2008 to perform at this same event.
  • Fourteen members of the UCLA Drumline traveled to Nagoya, Japan, from May 1 to 7, 2010, to perform at the 27th Annual Ekitopia Festival Parade. In 2018, twenty members of the Band returned to Nagoya to perform at the 35th Annual Ekitopia Festival Parade.
  • May 3, 2013 – The UCLA Bruin Marching Band opened for the Rolling Stones 50 and Counting tour concert at Staples Center by performing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.[8][9] The UCLA Bruin Marching Band's performance was reviewed favorably in media around the world.[10][11][12][13][14][15] Rolling Stone said that the concert started "with the UCLA marching band, which began the show by working their way through the crowd while playing a remarkably funky version of "Satisfaction."[16]
  • In May 2016, 50 members of the Band and Spirit Squad traveled to Taiwan to perform at the Taoyuan International Band Festival.

Varsity Band

The UCLA Varsity Band plays in Pauley Pavilion for winter sports. The UCLA Varsity Band appears with as many as 160 members at Women's Volleyball in the Fall, Men's and Women's basketball in the Winter, and Men's Volleyball in the spring. The UCLA Varsity band also appears at many other events to support the highly successful UCLA teams such as: Soccer, Tennis, Track and Field, Water Polo, Gymnastics, Baseball and Softball.

When the Bruin teams advance in NCAA tournament play, the Varsity Band can be found supporting the team at many venues outside Los Angeles. For Men's and Women's basketball, the UCLA Varsity Band has been with the team through their numerous NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship and NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship regional and final runs. The band has also traveled with the volleyball teams to the championship sites.

In Fall 2012, the Varsity Band unveiled a new uniform for the reopening of newly renovated Pauley Pavilion, replacing the Aloha shirts the band had worn since 1996.

Movie appearances

UCLA's location near many of the major movie studios has helped to have the UCLA band to be selected to appear in many films where a marching band is needed.

The band also appeared in the 41st Academy Awards show in 1969 to play the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang theme song, which was nominated for Best Original Song. They were introduced by Ingrid Bergman and Sidney Poitier as the "answer to the musical question: Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang?" Dancer Paula Kelly performed along with the band. It was listed by Newsday as one of the most memorable moments in the 1969 broadcast, the first international broadcast of the show.

Movie premieres

Because of the number of movies premiered in nearby Westwood and Hollywood, the UCLA Band has been invited periodically to be part of the festivities. In July 2007, the Band played for the premiere of The Simpsons Movie in Westwood Village. The movie was directed by David Silverman, who was a sousaphone player with the UCLA Bruin Marching Band in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Television show appearances

The band also has made numerous TV appearances on televised college sports, shows and commercials. National and regional broadcasts of UCLA athletic contests have included audio and video of the band in the stands or performing on the field.

  • The band appeared in an episode of The New Steve Allen Show airing on December 27, 1961, entitled "Campus U.S.A."
  • An ad hoc band was put together to play "Copacabana" on the NBC special Dick Clark and a Cast of 1000s airing 9/6/1978. Famous lines from the Director "Can they march backwards?"
  • The band appeared in a Bob Hope special in October 1980
  • A member of the band, Gary Bittner, appeared as part of the introduction to each ABC-TV college football telecast during the 1988 college football season.
  • Members of the band marched onto the Hollywood Squares television show season finale playing 76 Trombones to wish John Davidson good luck in a summer tour of The Music Man.
  • The band played the theme from Jeopardy! on the 2001 College Championship broadcast of the show.
  • The band has appeared on ESPN football College GameDay in Miami and Pasadena during football season.
  • The band has appeared on basketball College GameDay at Pauley Pavilion, as well as Atlanta, Indianapolis and San Antonio during the NCAA basketball tournament.
  • The band appeared on both CBS' The Early Show and NBC's Today Show in 2007.
  • Members of the Marching Band Percussion Section appeared at the beginning of a new Paula Abdul video during the Super Bowl XLII Pregame Show on Fox.
  • The band performed The Simpsons theme song at the end of the episode Lisa the Greek
  • The band performed The Amazing Race theme on the premiere of the 24th season, aired on February 23, 2014[17][18][19]
  • ABC's The Goldbergs, Barry Goldberg’s Day Off episode, February 25, 2015.[20]
  • The Band played "The Mighty Bruins" and "Bang, Bang" on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on January 20, 2016.
  • The Band played "Bruin Warriors" on the Ellen DeGeneres Show on October 12, 2016. The Band also appeared on this show in 2019.
  • Members of the Drumline played on Lip Sync Battle on October 27, 2016.
  • Twenty members of the Band recorded music for the ABC series Imaginary Mary for an episode entitled “Prom-Com” that aired on April 18, 2017. The recording session was held in a historic studio that was used by Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, and numerous others, including Michael Jackson for parts of his “Thriller” album!

Commercial advertisements

The band has appeared in television commercials for

Album and video media

Dan Fogelberg album The Innocent Age

A recording of the band is on the double platinum album The Innocent Age released in 1981 by Dan Fogelberg. The band is credited for "The Washington Post March" at the end of the LP track "Leader of the Band", which rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Single Chart in 1982. The arrangement of the march was by Lawrence Fogelberg, a marching band director from Peoria, Illinois, and also Dan's father. Dan played the cymbals during the recording session.

Destiny's Child video Bugaboo

The band appeared in the Destiny's Child video "Bugaboo". Wyclef Jean appeared in the video as the band's drum major, and also played the marching snare drum. The music video received heavy rotation on MTV and BET.

Muse album Simulation Theory

On November 9, 2018, English alternative rock band Muse released the album Simulation Theory.[24] featuring the UCLA Bruin Marching Band on the Super Deluxe version of the song "Pressure".

Maren Morris video for "Girl"

The Bruin Marching Band made a brief appearance in Maren Morris' video for her hit song "Girl".


The band has recorded several music records and compact discs.

  • UCLA BRUIN BAND – LP-1238 FSR (Fidelity Sound)
  • Marching Along with Mary Poppins – LP (1965) Walt Disney Music, DQ1288 (Marching band arrangements from Mary Poppins)
  • The UCLA Band Presents To The Blue And To The Gold, A Tradition In Song – LP (1977)[25]
  • The UCLA Bruin Marching Band "The Solid Gold Sound" – LP and Cassette (Songs from the 1984 season – recorded in the Ackerman Union grand ballroom)
  • The UCLA Bruin Marching Band "The Solid Gold Sound" – LP and Cassette (Songs from the 1985 season and 1986 Rose Bowl – recorded in Royce Hall)
  • The UCLA Bruin Marching Band "The Solid Gold Sound" – Cassette (Songs from the 1986 and 1987 seasons – recorded in the Ackerman Union Grand Ballroom)
  • Bruin Spirit – CD and Cassette (1997)
  • Bruin Pride – CD (1999)
  • True Blue – CD (2009)
  • Simulation Theory by Muse – the recording of "Pressure" on the Super Deluxe version (released November 9, 2018)


Notable directors of the band include W. G. Powell, the first director of the ROTC band, Ben Laietsky 1928–31 (former member of the Sousa Band), Leroy Allen 1934–47, Patton McNaughton 1947–51, Clarence Sawhill 1952–72, assistant director Kelly James 1955–81, Robert Winslow 1972–74, and Gordon Henderson from 1982 to 2019. Henderson is currently on sabbatical and is scheduled to retire in 2020. The current interim director is Kevin McKeown. The previous assistant directors of the marching band were Jennifer Judkins, former UCLA Drum Major Keith Kupper, and UCLA Ph.D. graduate Kelly Flickinger. The current assistant director, as of July 1, 2015, is Ken Fisher. The director of bands from 1985 to 2010 was Thomas Lee. Lee is a graduate of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Gordon Henderson is currently serving as director of bands.

Famous alumni

  • Ron Logan – former Executive vice president, executive producer for Walt Disney Entertainment
  • David Silverman – animator best known for directing numerous episodes of the animated TV series The Simpsons and The Simpsons Movie
  • Dave Koz – American jazz saxophonist, was a member of the UCLA Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Gary Gray
  • Gil Robbins – American folk singer, folk musician and actor, former member of the folk band The Highwaymen, served as drum major of the UCLA Band in 1949 and 1950.


  1. Deborah Schoch, "The game's other score: Football matters on New Year's Day, sure, but a second set of rivals will march onto the field in Pasadena: the schools' bands." Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2006.
  2. This Month (November) 78 years ago Archived 2008-02-14 at the Wayback Machine UCLA Today Magazine, November 7, 2006
  3. Davis, Mark (1 January 2008). "Clothes Make the Band". UCLA Magazine. Retrieved 22 August 2010. Following years of uncertain color chaos and confusion, years in which Bruinwear of all sorts and stripes exploded in a cyan anarchy of powdered to royal to pilfered blues (not to mention the infamously brief experiment of black basketball uniforms), the campus finally settled on one true Bruin blue in 2004
  4. 1985 In Memoriam: Freeman Kelly James, Jr., Music: Los Angeles University of California (System) Academic Senate, 1985
  5. "(picture) Sports Illustrated cover November 26, 1956". Archived from the original on May 12, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2006.
  6. "The Sudler Trophy". John Philip Sousa Foundation. 2002. Archived from the original on 2003-12-21. Retrieved 2007-08-27.
  7. UCLA History Project - Songs: Strike Up The Band for UCLA
  8. Ucla marching band Rolling Stones , YouTube, May 3, 2013
  9. UCLA Marching Band - Satisfaction, YouTube, May 4, 2013
  10. Quan, Denise (4 May 2013). "The Rolling Stones offer up celebration, celebs and 'Satisfaction". CNN.
  11. Zeidler, Sue (4 May 2013). "Rolling Stones rock packed house after price cuts in LA". Reuters.
  12. "Rolling Stones rock packed house after price cuts - The China Post". Archived from the original on 2013-11-27.
  13. "Rolling Stones rock packed house after price cuts in LA".
  14. Zeidler, Sue. "Rolling Stones rock packed house after price cuts in LA".
  15. "News".
  16. Read more: The Rolling Stones offer plenty of surprises in Los Angeles tour kickoff Rolling Stone Magazine May 2013
  17. gbruin, UCLA Marching Band to kick off The Amazing Race, bruinsnation.com, February 19, 2014
  18. Herb and Nate on the Season 24 Premiere, CBS, February 2014
  19. Rebecca Kendall, UCLA Bruin Marching Band sets musical pace for globe-spanning race Archived 2014-02-28 at the Wayback Machine, UCLA Today, February 18, 2014
  20. Barry's Epic Ferris Finale, ABC, February 26, 2015
  21. Anderson, Mae - ESPN Unveils ‘Sports Heaven’. Adweek. February 1, 2006
  22. "ESPN Sports Heaven". ESPN Mobile. September 11, 2006. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  23. AGENCY: Leo Burnett Detroit CD CW: Glen Hilzinger CD AD: Bob Veasey ECD: Steve Chavez PRODUCER: Erik Zaar DIRECTOR: Chris Woods, Recommended Media EDITOR: Tom Scherma, Cosmo Street FX: Co. 3 NY. "NCAA Marching Band". NCAA. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 3 January 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  24. Blistein, Jon (30 August 2018). "Muse Preview New Album 'Simulation Theory' With Slick Song 'The Dark Side'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  25. Note: This album includes Bruin band music mixed with radio play-by-play by Fred Hessler of the semi final game of the 1975 NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament. The retirement announcement spoken by John Wooden to the press corps following the game is also included.
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