Shortly after the University of Southern California was founded in 1880, a group of musicians first came together to form what would become the 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, the TMB is a prominent and visible representative of the university with over 350 engagements each year. It has truly earned its nickname “The Spirit of Troy” for its commitment to USC and its tireless support of Trojan athletics.
Named the “Best Band in College Football” by USA Today, The Spirit of Troy has not missed a USC football game – at home or on the road – since 1987, a streak that will surpass 400 during the 2018 football season. A portion of the TMB follows the Trojans to every game with the entire band traveling north each year to play one of the Bay Area schools and biennially to the Midwest for the Notre Dame contest.
At home in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the band entertains the Trojan faithful with performances before, during and after the game. The traditional pregame features the Trojan fight songs and the band’s distinctive rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Each halftime, the TMB presents a new and exciting field show that is a powerful blend of popular music, precision drills and crowd-pleasing dance routines. Then, after the game, the band performs its customary set of “rock charts” for the lucky fans who stay past the final whistle.
Come New Year’s Day, the Trojan Marching Band can often be found at its second home in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl Game has hosted The Spirit of Troy 34 times, by far the most of any collegiate band. Other bowl games the band has attended include the Cotton, Holiday, Orange, Las Vegas, Sun and Fiesta bowls. The Spirit of Troy’s commitment to USC Athletics is not limited to football, though. From volleyball to soccer, baseball to crew, the band is there to root the Trojans on to victory at over 85 sports events each year. During the spring, The Spirit of Troy becomes the USC Basketball Band and attends every men’s and women’s home game. 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 more than tripled in size since Dr. Arthur C. Bartner became director in 1970. He has built the band into a world-renowned performing group with frequent appearances at special events throughout the globe. In 2016 the Trojan Marching Band became the first American group to perform at Macao’s internationally-televised Chinese New Year parade. 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 2014 NHL Stadium Series. 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.
Because of its frequent exposure on the small and silver screens, the TMB has become known as “Hollywood’s Band.” The band can be heard on the soundtrack to the 2013 animated feature The Croods and 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 and Hugh Jackman in a Baz Luhrmann-produced salute to the Hollywood musical. Earlier that year, the band appeared at the 51st 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.
Some of the TMB’s other television appearances include guest spots on Carpool Karaoke: The Series, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Dancing with the Stars, Glee, America’s Got Talent, How I Met Your Mother, American Idol and SportsCenter. In 2007 the band broke into the world of major print media with an appearance in the prestigious Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The TMB was one of two college marching bands chosen for this first-of-its-kind pictorial, which featured thirteen pages of supermodels posed with band members. In 2013 the band appeared in a pictorial for Vanity Fair’s annualHollywood Issue.
Dating back to John Philip ’s appearance with the band in 1924, the band has continuously attracted famous guest artists. Henry Mancini, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Slash, Jason Derulo, 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. The TMB also made history by performing with the alt rock band Coheed and Cambria on the main stage of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in 2010. The band has returned twice since, performing with ODESZA in 2015 and Major Lazer in 2016.
During its summer vacations, the band stays busy traveling the world as goodwill ambassadors for the university. The Spirit of Troy performed for 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. Last summer the band visited Ireland, performing at Blarney Castle and Dublin Castle on its tour of the island. The band has also had the privilege of performing at six World Expositions in the last 25 years: Brisbane 1988, Seville 1992, Lisbon 1998, Aichi 2005, Shanghai 2010 and, most recently, Milan’s Expo 2015 where the band performed for USA National Day.
The Spirit of Troy made up 130 of the 800-strong Olympic All-American Marching Band – directed by Dr. Bartner – which performed at the 1984 Summer Olympics. It was actually the band’s second appearance at the Olympics. In 1932 it formed the 10th Olympiad Band at the Los Angeles Games.
The TMB is complemented by the USC Silks (tall flags) and the world-famous Song Girls.