Steven Layser - 1970
As many former band members may recall, back in the early 1970’s, when the marching band took six buses to attend away games (in those days, there were only two away games at which the MMB attended and performed, MSU and OSU), the last bus in line, bus #6, was designated as “the Glock Bus”. It was an all-male affair, the bus being filled with 18-20ish-year old “men” who were adolescents only the day before. In a raucous attempt to relieve the traditional frustrations of puberty, it was customary for the occupants of this bus to sing a variety of songs laced with lewd and salacious lyrics, and engage in various shenanigans typical of nouveau pubescent males for the duration of the trip to and from the game. When traveling to the MSU game in 1973, bus #6 and bus #5 were stopped side by side on a 4-lane highway at an intersection with a traffic light. On bus #6 (in the left-hand lane) there were sudden and not-so-subtle suggestions calling for the execution an obscene gesture involving the naked derriere (aimed at bus #5, immediately to the right in the non-passing lane). One of the freshman occupants, desiring to gain favor with the older “members” and possibly to pass a ritual of “initiation”, quickly complied with the suggestion. At that very moment, the red traffic light turned green. Bus #5 pulled away first, leaving the right hand side of bus #6 complete with a bare derriere exposed to the traffic stopped at the road intersecting the high way from the right. As luck would have it, the car at the head of the line of cars stopped at the light was a Michigan State Trooper. No sooner had bus #6 moved through the light, and the Trooper was right on its tail with red lights blazing away. After the bus pulled onto the shoulder and stopped, the State Trooper, who was a dead ringer for the Jackie Gleason sheriff character in the 1977 movie “Smoky and the Bandit” entered the bus (I know, this event predated the movie). The trooper, hands on hips with sagging gut hanging over his belt, stood in the front of the bus next to the silent driver, and for what seemed an eternity, gave a harangue (complete with exaggerated drawl) on the indecent exposure ramifications of “shooting a moonie”. Evidently band director George Cavender realized there was some sort of incident unfolding back along the highway, so he had his private “command car” turn around and drop him off at the stopped bus #6. Promptly upon entering the bus, George began loudly and emphatically proclaiming, “ALL RIGHT, WHO WAS CHANGING CLOTHES ON THE BUS?!” The State Trooper quickly let George know in no uncertain terms that this was definitely NOT a case of someone changing clothes, but a willful act of indecent exposure. George then proceeded to confront each and every occupant of the bus face-to-face, and while looking them directly in the eyes, asked, “Did YOU do it?”. When he finally got to the back of the bus and every response was a deadpanned, “No sir.”, he stormed back up to the front of the bus, and in a rage, loudly proclaimed that we had a liar in our midst, and that we were not going to get underway to our destination until someone confessed. That did the trick, as the perp then promptly “fessed up”, George and the trooper left the bus, and we continued on our trip. It turned out that one of the occupants of the bus had a cassette recorder and surreptitiously recorded the entire incident. This recording (or so it was rumored) provided excellent entertainment for the occupants of bus #6 for the long ride home. Later, the guilty party was suspended from performing in several halftime shows, but after a heart-to-heart conversation with George, replete with apology, he was re-instated for the remainder of the season.
In the early 1970’s the condition of the euphoniums provided by the Michigan Marching Band for use by members of the euphonium section was not exactly pristine. The instruments were bell-front models (as opposed to those having upright bells); the bells were detachable and were thus able to be rotated so the players could fine tune the angle of the direction of the bell to suit their individual preferences. The bells were secured in position by three thumb screws. Because of wear acquired by use during the advanced age of the instruments, the threading on these thumb screws was very badly worn, and on some of the individual instruments, was close to being stripped. In 1972 or 1973, as euphonium section leader, I admonished the new members of the section to exercise great care in securing the bells on their instruments with these thumb screws, so as to avoid losing the bell during the controlled bedlam of the pregame entry (during which we would flash our instruments, swinging them in a wide arc from left to right in time with the entry cadence as we stormed onto the field). I believe it was shortly after exploding from the darkness of the tunnel onto the field for the pregame of the first home game of the year, that I detected a bright reflection or flash of movement out of the corner of my eye to the left. Sure enough, it was a euphonium bell flying through the air. It hit the ground about 5 yards away off to the left, and because of its irregular shape, promptly took an incredibly weird bounce right back in the direction from which it came, toward our line somewhere behind me. As luck would have it, one of the section members in line behind me, I believe it was Stuart Delaney, in the rapid pace of the entry, somehow managed to put his foot into the smaller diameter end (the end that was not flared) of the bell. The bell firmly stuck on the tip of his shoe until we folded the lines out into the fanfare formation. As the M Fanfare began, Stuart tried with difficulty to extricate the euphonium bell from his foot by repeatedly kicking his foot outward and upward, all the while playing the M Fanfare, standing in line facing forward. When the bell finally released its tenacious grip, I recall it flying high into the air in a radically arcing trajectory over director George Cavender. As he stood on his ladder conducting the M Fanfare, never flinching nor missing a beat, George’s eyes rolled upward then back, following the wildly tumbling, flying object as it sailed over his head and landed on the ground, presumably somewhere on the sideline behind him, as the band continued to play the fanfare. We proceeded to complete the pregame performance, and after leaving the field, it was discovered to our dismay that the errant euphonium bell seemingly had vanished and was nowhere to be found. As far as I know it never did turn up. It is well known how a football is prone to take weird and unpredictable bounces, but I would contend they are nothing like the erratic bounces of which a “fumbled” euphonium bell is capable!
Director George Cavender’s standard weekly routine in the early 1970’s for learning a new halftime/pregame show began on Monday afternoon with an indoor playing-only rehearsal to learn the new music for the show. With the entire marching band seated in the dark, dingy, cramped confines of the small building adjacent to Wines Field at the corner of Division and Hill, Cavender would usually start the rehearsal by spending what seemed to be an eternity tuning the band. Having each and every playing member individually play his or her B-flat tuning note, Cavender was prone to heaping loads of loud and creative derision on anyone who played the note out of tune and/or with a bad tone. He was fond of often repeating the aphorism, “It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the entire bushel”, when referring to a player who was not in tune. On this particular autumn day at mid-season of 1972, little did we realize how prophetic or apropos this statement would be. Arthur Gottschalk (to become an eminent composer of contemporary music and esteemed professor of composition at Rice University, Shepherd School of Music) and I (to become nothing of any musical consequence) were both music majors and seniors and were thus considered the elders of the marching band euphonium section. Art, not only a gifted composer, was also a talented and accomplished musician on the euphonium, so it was quite a shock when the B-flat that was emitted from Art’s horn on this particular day was not only very much out of tune, but also of a tone quality reminiscent of a sound made by a wounded animal. Cavender, was particularly upset by this, so as he worked his way through each section of the band tuning individual players, he repeatedly returned to Art to have him again attempt to properly play his tuning note, only to replicate the same unacceptable results. Each successive time this happened, with Art’s tuning note sounding the same, without improvement, Cavender became increasingly angrier. Finally, in a fit of utter rage, Cavender, screaming by now, with droplets of spittle flying from his mouth, ordered Art to put his horn in his lap and not to play another note for the remainder of the rehearsal, citing that after four years in the band he should know by now how to properly tune his instrument, and he should be ashamed, etc.
Now to the “rotten apple” part: In the early 1970’s, one of the banks in Ann Arbor provided crisp, fresh apples to the band, to be enjoyed in the stands during the second half of the game. The apples were handed out to all the playing members upon returning to their seats in the stands after completing the halftime performance. The apples were transported into the stadium by non-playing members of the band using sturdy wooden boxes with rope handles on the sides. The boxes were painted white and were adorned with neatly executed paintings of red apples along with U of M band logos and various motivational mottos and slogans used by the band. The group of band members who carried these boxes into the stadium was referred to as the Apple Corps. (ouch!)
After the aforementioned rehearsal, as Art was returning his euphonium to its case, he discovered the cause of his tuning troubles. After noticing a dull rattling/thumping sound in the horn when he turned the instrument on its side to return it into the case, he turned the instrument completely upside down, and a rotten apple core fell out of the bell of the horn! It was only then that I recalled during the previous week’s game, after eating my apple, in a moment of horseplay, I furtively dropped the core of the apple into the bell of Art’s horn, which was resting on his lap as he was totally consumed with watching the game and cheering the football team on. I apologized profusely to Art for the unintended trouble this had caused him. After learning of my sophomoric prank, Cavender was not at all amused, to say the least.
Richard Fleissner - 1972
In January, 1973 when we were at the morning rehearsal for the Super Bowl halftime show at Los Angeles Coliseum, the seam of my pants split from the crotch, down both legs. We were not going back to the dorm and the performance was only a few hours away. Thank goodness for all the people that carried extra safety pins with them. I borrowed from several of them to mend the pants as best I could during our lunch break.
Donald Marzewski - 1972
Most people didn't know that I have an identical twin brother. My twin went to the Music School at Wayne State University (Dearborn Mi) while I attended U of M. My twin was in the music program and knew Jerry Bilik who was a teacher at Wayne State. After his classes, Jerry would get into his car and race from Dearborn to Ann Arbor to get to the Marching Band practice. Jerry was confused how I was always able to beat him from Dearborn to Ann Arbor. He saw my brother in Dearborn, then saw me already on the practice field when he arrived at MB practice. (Jerry didn't realize he saw my twin in Dearborn, and saw me in Ann Arbor).
Geoffrey Kempter - 1977
After the Wolverines captured the Big 10 title in 1977, the MMB traveled to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. On January 1, 1978, following an exhausting week of rehearsing and performing at various venues, we dragged ourselves out of bed at 4 AM, ate breakfast, boarded our buses, and drove across Los Angeles to Pasadena for the Rose Parade.
At some point in the controlled chaos preceding that venerable event, we filed past the USC Trojan band. Our director George Cavender, knowing of this convergence, had warned us that the Trojans were likely to be less than polite, and that we were expected to take the abuse in a manner fitting of Michigan bandspersons. Sure enough, as we passed Trojans, they erupted in howls of abuse, jeers and insults of the most vile sort.
I am proud to report that for those several minutes, no Michigan band member uttered a word, no obscene gestures were offered, indeed not one Michigan head turned to acknowledge the Trojan display. We filed past, eyes forward, and took our place in line. Never has silence said so much.
Later that evening, a contingent of the Trojan band came to visit us at the UCLA dormitory where we were staying. They offered apologies for the behavior of their comrades, and compliments for the class we displayed, and the quality of our performance. Though the Wolverines lost the football game, it was clear which band had carried the day.
Harold Zald - 1972
Don’t forget the California Highway Patrol incident during Disneyland side trip in 1973. (Superbowl 13) (George C. would not want to remember!)
Marshall Craig - 1978
Back in 1979, the MMB still held tryouts for the Announcer position, which has been capably held for many years by Carl Grapentine. Normally a mere formality for the mighty Grape, under the coercion of my Rank Leader, I and my rather heavy "Lawn Guyland" accent challenged Carl for the position. After introducing the "Mishigun Mawchin' Be-yand" I received a surprisingly thunderous ovation ,as well as (spies report) several votes. The MMB director at the time was not amused, and henceforth the Announce position was permanently awarded to Mr. Grapentine....
Steve Ron - 1970
Prior to the 1973 Rose Bowl, I had temporary caps put on 3 teeth. During pre-game, I blew a little too hard & one cap came off, went through my euphonium & landed on the 50 yard line, where it presumably remains to this day.
Ed Sarkisian - 1970
OSU vs. M 1971
Coach Woody Hayes pushed several band members in the tunnel prior to pre-game performance, our members then held him to the wall until his staff pulled him away. This occurred after he watched the OSU band pre-game show. He turned to run up the tunnel only to find our band filling the opening.
Steven White - 1977
Fall 1977 – Former President Gerald Ford was lecturing on campus. Outside the classroom I gave the Secret Service an invitation for him to attend band practice. I told Prof. Cavender & he said we’d play “The Victors” for him if he showed up. He did not, but I received a thank you note at Revelli Hall from Rancho Mirage, CA from the President thanking me for the invitation. Mrs. Norris, the band secretary, had excitedly called me to hurry down to open the letter. George Cavender & she watched as I did so. It was a fun experience for an inexperienced freshman! I’ve since done an internship in the Carter administration and then recently was back at the White House to assist with photography for the book “The White House: It’s Historic Furnishings and First Families,” published for the 200th anniversary of the White House. My brother was the photographer.
Carolyn Good Kibbe - 1972
I was the first woman George Cavender admitted in the U-M Marching Band in the summer of 1972. One thing that defined our first year, but particularly the first week of band was that my fellow bandsmen wrote the definition of sexual harassment. Our feature song the first show the first year of women in the band was “The Stripper” and our formation kept “taking the skirt higher.” I’m certain that the show was designed to discourage the six of us women to quit. We stayed!
David L. Smith - 1974
Having George pick me out as being flat while the entire band practiced. Amazing.
Rick Bennett - 1972
This story is legendary among a group of us.
One of the funniest stories I remember was on our Orange Bowl Trip when the Assistant Director (we only had one back then) went running up to one of the trumpet players with the expressed intent of dumping all over him. The director said “Smith!” (The names were changed to protect the innocent) “You march the way old people %#$& (Make whoopee)!" The band member looked the director right in the eye and said “Well, at least I don’t %#$& the way old people march!!”
John Milne - 1972
Went to California with the first Super Bowl band in 1973. Met Andy Williams for rehearsal of half-time show. Entire band spontaneously said, “Hello, Mr. Williams, can we have a cookie?”, the famous line from his then hit television show’s character – A Large Bear. He replied in kind, “no, not now, not ever, never!”
Lynne (Buben) Wainfan - 1975
In the Fall of 1977, President Gerald Ford visits the school and we are invited to perform for him at Chrysler Arena. For some reason, the band is allowed to bypass the metal detectors but everyone else entering the stadium is checked. In the middle of Ford's speech, someone shoots off a firecracker. The band dives for cover (we're right next to him), the secret service move into position, but Ford blinks once and continues his speech, without missing a beat.
Wayne R. Stone - 1971
In 1971, my freshmen year, I played Cornet in the MMB. Game time temperature was ~ 70 degrees for every home game that year, until the OSU game. Even on November 6th, when we played Iowa, the game time temperature was 70. However, the morning of November 20th, 1971, the weather was a chilly 32, and rain, snow, sleet and hail all were in the forecast.
Growing up in Ann Arbor, I had been to numerous Michigan football games, but never a Michigan-Ohio State game. (A tough ticket to get)
The atmosphere was electric, as the outcome would once again determine the Big Ten Championship, and the Rose Bowl berth. Michigan was ranked # 3 in the country (AP). I was excited and in awe of the moment.
Once at the stadium, which was filled to record capacity with 104,016 of my closest friends, we performed the usual tunnel traditions, such as singing "The Yellow and the Blue".
The teams came through the tunnel. The entire Band chanted, "Let's Go Blue!" to that familiar Drum cadence, while slapping the shoulders of the Michigan players as they ran toward the locker room. It was very loud in that tunnel as the sound reverberated. Then........ dead silence, as the Buckeye team followed. One could hear a pin drop.
All of the OSU players and coaches came through the tunnel...........except Woody. He was nowhere in sight. Someone speculated that he was busy bribing the officials! The band waited before flooding the tunnel entrance to the field. Finally, the Conductor George Cavender determined that we had to get into position, because ABC was scheduled to nationally televise our entrance and pre-game show. We awaited Carl Grapentine's announcement.
There are steel seats blocking the south half of the tunnel's field exit, where it is only about one car-width wide (it's the narrowest point in the tunnel, known to some as "the nozzle.") Just after we moved down into that opening was when Wayne Woodrow Hayes decided that he would come off the field. We were in five files, shoulder-to-shoulder, packed like sardines. Due to the weather, we were wearing raincoats, and as Jon Chase recalls, "We were WIDE".
All of a sudden, there he was, Darth Vader himself, headed my way. As a freshman, I was in awe of the moment anyway, but now I was about to encounter a legend. Here was the man who led the evil Ohio State Buckeyes. The man who referred to U of M as "that school up north". The man who in 1968, after scoring the 50th point, ordered a two-point conversion attempt (which failed). OSU trounced Michigan 50-14. "Fifty points," said Woody, "is not always enough."
Mild-mannered Ed Sarkisian, fellow Cornet player, now a Dentist, was two spots in line ahead of me, standing right next to the steel structure under the seats. He was about the LAST person that I would put into the troublemaker category. All of a sudden, seemingly without provocation, Hayes shoved Ed hard up under the steel bleachers of the nozzle with both arms, while saying "Don't do that G@@-@@@@@@".
We were all momentarily stunned.
Jonathan Chase, a Junior, immediately behind me, yelled out "Come back here and pick on somebody your own size." I could feel the bell of his trumpet moving up my back. I thought that Jon was going to hit Hayes with his trumpet! I thought to myself, "I'm going to die (in the middle of this brawl)." (Later Jon said that he didn't intend to strike Woody with his horn, saying, "Why would I do that to a perfectly good Holton?")
A moment later, Chase and Hayes were literally face-to-face and nobody was smiling. Chase, the future Trial Lawyer, stared at Woody and said, "Is that any way for a grown man to act?" Hayes glowered but said nothing. Whatever he may have wanted to do to us, he was in no position to do it at that moment, and we knew it. He was surrounded by the entire cornet/trumpet section.
Just as quickly as it had happened, it was over; the Ann Arbor Police grabbed Hayes and escorted him back to the OSU locker-room.
Our pre-game show went on. Hailstones began to pelt the band as we came out onto the field, played the M fanfare, and fittingly enough, played Hail to the Victors.
Ultimately, Michigan won the game, 10- 7, scoring the winning points with 2 minutes and 7 seconds left to play, and earned a trip to the Rose Bowl... But Woody wasn't done making news.
Late in the 4th quarter, a controversial call went Michigan's way...... and Woody went berserk. All-American Tom Darden intercepted a pass over the top of the OSU receiver, which Woody thought should have drawn a pass interference call. The referee held firm with his no foul ruling, the Buckeyes' last drive was history, and Hayes went crazy in public for the first time. He ripped up the first down marker, walked 10 yards to tear up the orange yard markers, and flung them toward the center of the field...a moment caught on video tape "The not so great moments of sports" (HBO sports 1985,1987).
That evening, after the game, Ed Sarkisian recalls going to dinner with his cousin Leon and Ed's parents to celebrate the U of M victory, and had temporarily forgotten about the pre-game tunnel altercation. Leon, who played clarinet, had been in the back of the tunnel when Hayes shoved Ed, and did not know the details. Leon suddenly remarked, "Hey, I heard that someone in the band was attacked by Woody. Ed do you know who it was?. Ed said " Yeah.....It was ME !"
Hayes may have been a great recruiter ...............and an "OK" coach. But the day of a Game, I'm here to tell you, he was out of his mind. Imagine, picking a fight with the Band! Ed Sarkisian later explained, "When Hayes came by, I did not move to accommodate him. I held my ground."
Years later, when, Hayes slugged Charlie Baumann, a North Carolina linebacker who intercepted an OSU pass to end the nationally televised 1978 Gator Bowl game, I said to myself, "I've seen this before."
Hayes was fired the next day.
Jon Chase recalls, "I last saw Ed and Leon Sarkisian at homecoming, around '93 or so. Neither one was playing that year but they both had their band jackets on and met us after the game at Revelli Hall. Ed wanted to introduce me to his wife, obviously because of the incident with Woody. When he did so, she said, with an air of disbelief, "This is Chase???"
"Apparently, after all the tellings of the story, I had become a 6' 5" defensive lineman who had nearly pummeled old Woody!"
Just for the record, Jon Chase is 5' 9' tall.
Ron Raymer - 1974
I recall as a senior rehearsing the dance routine for "Sir Duke". I was being exceptionally energetic apparently, because Professor Cavender stopped the drill, made everyone sit and sing "Sir Duke" while I performed the routine, solo, in front of everyone. While I felt like digging a hole in the asphalt of the drill field, the band gave me a huge ovation when I finished. It relieved my humiliation a little.
Frank Longo - 1971
In 1972, the Purdue band visited Michigan Stadium, and as customary the visiting band played its pre-game show first. After Purdue’s tremendously large band finished its show, it huddled just beyond the west sideline as we came storming out of the tunnel and onto the field. I carried the Michigan Flag and at that time my role during the pre-game entry cadence was to come all the way across the field just short of the sideline. I had the most perfect view of the reaction of the Purdue band members just feet in front of me, when the MMB hit the first few spectacularly clear notes of the M Fanfare. Their jaws simply dropped, as they were literally blown away.
Kay Parker Highland - 1974
We girls in the band (in the early years of allowing girls) had to give a lot more to be accepted. I wore a t-shirt and shorts to every rehearsal. One day (December) George put us in a trap kneel position and proceeded to "discuss" our performance. 10 minutes later we were released. I had been kneeling in ice for the entire time and was extremely cold I ran to Revelli Hall and as soon as I hit the warm air, I collapsed. I heard "That's what I call giving 110%!" I looked up to find I had fallen at the feet of William D. himself!
Return to Legends and Lore