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Our History

Shortly after the University of Southern California was founded in 1880, a group of musicians 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 350 passionate students from nearly every major, the TMB is a prominent representative of the university with 300 engagements each year. Together with USC Song, the USC Spirit Leaders, and USC’s mascot Traveler, the Trojan Marching Band is known as “The Spirit of Troy” for its commitment to USC and its tireless support of Trojan athletics.

Twice named the “Best Band in College Football” by USA Today, the Trojan Marching Band has not missed a USC football game – at home or on the road – since 1987, a streak that surpassed 450 last 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 TMB 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 band’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.

The Trojan Marching Band came to prominence during Dr. Arthur C. Bartner’s tenure from 1970-2020. Bartner built the band into a world-renowned performing group with performances in 35 U.S. states and 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, the 2014 NHL Stadium Series and NASCAR’s Clash at the Coliseum. Internationally, the band has performed at rugby and Australian Rules Football matches in Sydney, a professional baseball game in Tokyo and, in 2008, a Brazilian club soccer match in Rio de Janeiro.

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 movie The Croods and seen in films such as The Way Back, 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. It was the TMB’s second appearance on the Grammys in five years. 

Some of the TMB’s other television appearances include guest spots on the The Masked Singer, Kids’ Choice Awards, Carpool Karaoke: The Series, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Dancing with the Stars, Glee, America’s Got Talent, The Goldbergs, American Idol, and SportsCenter

Dating back to John Philip Sousa’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 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 TMB 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 toured Central Europe, performing in Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague. The band has also had the privilege of performing at six World Expositions in the last 35 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 Trojan Marching Band made up 130 of the 800-strong Olympic All-American Marching Band, which performed at the 1984 Summer Olympics. It was the band’s second appearance at the Olympics. In 1932 it formed the 10th Olympiad Band at the Los Angeles Games.

The TMB is directed by Dr.  Jacob Vogel, in his third season leading the organization. He was elevated to the position after twelve years as a teaching assistant, assistant director, associate director, and arranger with the program.

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