Yea, Alabama!

Celebrating 100 years with the Million Dollar Band

The Million Dollar Band, one of The University of Alabama’s most beloved organizations, marked its 100th anniversary in fall 2012. Watch this slideshow for a pictorial history of the band.


More About the Band’s History

Formed during the 1912-13 school year, the band has its roots in UA’s military background and was formed as a way of training students to march as a unit. The name “Million Dollar Band” was first used in 1922 by W. C. “Champ” Pickens, an Alabama alumnus and former football team manager.

The most widely accepted version of the story is rooted in the band’s trip to the 1922 away game against Georgia Tech. Because the band’s budget at the time was little more than what it spends on T-shirts and water bottles today, members were forced to fundraise extensively just to cover the cost of the over-crowded bus ride to Georgia.

During that game, won by the Yellowjackets 33-7, an Atlanta sportswriter asked Pickens, “You don’t have much of a team, what do you have at Alabama?” Pickens replied, “A million-dollar band.” The name, now more appropriate than sarcastic, stuck.

More than 25,000 students have played in the band in the last 100 years; today, the band boasts more than 400 members, making it the largest student organization on campus. The group has performed before hundreds of audiences at football games on college campuses across the United States.

In 2003 the band was awarded the prestigious Sudler Trophy, the national championship for collegiate marching bands, which any band may win only once. Recently, its performances were seen by millions during halftime shows at the national football championship games played in 2009 and 2011.

To begin this year of celebration, the Million Dollar Band added another accomplishment to its list: first marching band to parade in the streets of Florence, Italy. In May 2012, more than 100 members of the band traveled to Italy for two weeks to perform in concert halls throughout the country and interact with Italian music ensembles.

The on-campus celebration included a September 2012 Centennial Concert by the Alabama Wind Ensemble, featuring directors from the past 100 years, followed by a Centennial Gala where members and alumni received commemorative rings. The following day, the University of Alabama Alumni Band performed with the Million Dollar Band during the halftime show at the football game with Florida Atlantic University.

For more information about the Centennial Celebration, visit