Did You Know: U of A Band Performed At The First Super Bowl

January 31, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the University of Arizona Band Department)
U of A Marching Band Director Jack K. Lee during the 1960s. He directed the U of A marching band that performed at Super Bowl I in January 1967.

Would you believe Arizona had a Super Bowl marching band before it had a professional football team? They are known as the Pride of Arizona. The University of Arizona marching band has been performing at national events for years, including at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977.  Did You Know the U of A band performed at Super Bowl I in 1967?

“At this time the University of Arizona band was under the direction of Jack Lee and in the world of marching bands, in college bands, Jack Lee was a very prominent figure," said Jay Rees, U of A band director. "He was very well known, and the band was very well known around the country as being one of the finest marching bands in the college ranks.”

Super Bowl I was held on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Rees said producers decided to create a half-time show for the new football event. The obvious decision was a marching band performance, after all it is football. The University of Arizona was asked to be the headlining act.

The sounds you hear are from a recording made of the Super Bowl 1 half-time show. That is the University of Arizona marching band at the start of the show. They are entering the field and performing "The Sound of Music."

The band performed about a dozen pieces of music that afternoon. With each new song, the orchestra moved about the field creating new displays, from the O.K. Corral gun fight to a cracking liberty bell. They even formed two giant football players running to kick a giant football. The event ended with the Grambling University marching band joining the U of A on the field, creating an outline of the continental U.S.

Again, the sounds you hear are a recording from that 1967 half-time show.

Rees said he was not surprised when in 1996 the University of Arizona band was invited to perform at the first Super Bowl in Arizona.

“The U of A band again was involved in the Super Bowl activities. We played on the "Today Show" and at the pre-game festivities and some things like that," explained Rees. "So, there’s a history between the U of A band and the Super Bowl that continues.”

You know that map formation I mentioned earlier? It has become a U of A band trademark. In honor of the 1967 performance, Rees added the U.S. outlining march to the ‘96 Super Bowl festivities while playing "American the Beautiful," and ever since it has been part of the pre-game performance at all the Wildcats football home games.

Watch the video below courtesy of the Pride of Arizona Band to see the original 1967 Super Bowl performance.