The Marching Chiefs of Florida State University

The Band That Never Lost a Halftime Show

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About the Book

 The history of Florida State University’s Marching Chiefs is chronicled, from early efforts to found a band before the program’s 1939 establishment at Florida State College for Women, to the Chiefs’ attainment of “world renowned” status. The band’s leaders, shows, and music are discussed, along with the origins of some of their venerable traditions, game-day rituals, and school songs. This story of the Chiefs takes into account the growth of FSU and its School of Music, the rise of “Big Football” in Tallahassee, and the transformations on campus and in American society that affected them.

About the Author(s)

Bill F. Faucett is an arts administrator and fundraiser and a former classical music critic and columnist at the Palm Beach Post and American Record Guide. He is director of development at the University of South Florida’s College of The Arts.

Bibliographic Details

Bill F. Faucett
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 235
Bibliographic Info: 58 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6832-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3049-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Introduction: FSU vs. East Carolina, September 20, 1980 4

Part I. Marching Chiefs One Time!

1. College Town (to 1937) 9

Higher Education in Tallahassee  9

“Femina Perfecta”: The Florida State College for Women (1909)  16

2. Picture and Sound (1938–1946) 21

The Tally Troopers  21

Two Cellists  24

“Band Pageantry” and War  30

The Remarkable Frank Sykora  35

Sellers Returns  39

3. Becoming the Chiefs (1947–1953) 42

A Coed University … Again  42

Halftime Hijinks  48

Robert Braunagel (1949–1953)  52

October 1950  55

Football Gets Serious  59

Part II. Marching Chiefs Two Times!

4. Whit (1953–1962) 65

Manley R. Whitcomb  65

“Music, Music, Music”  69

“Hell-Raisers”  74

Small Scandals  84

Damned Gators  85

Whit Retires  89

5. The Art of the Marching Band (1963–1970) 91

Charlie Carter  91

“Brownie”  97

“Never lost a ­halftime show”  101

Forging an Art Form  109

“Ghosts of FSCW”  113

The Chiefs Go Bowling  116

6. World Renowned (1971–1976) 121

“With an ­ever present flair”  121

“Anti-Football Views”  130

Syria and Jordan (1974)  135

Dis-Spirited ’76  138

Part III. Marching Chiefs Three Times!

7. Football Rising: Bowden, Bernie and

    Bentley (1976–1990) 146

Tradition Returns  146

“Where our traditions come from”: FSU at Ohio State, October 3, 1981  152

The Voice  159

Shellahamer Returns  161

“We played the ‘War Chant’ ­non-stop”  164

8. A Marching Band for a New Era (1991 to Today) 168

Dunnagin and Plack  168

“Zero tolerance”  172

Exit Charlie  177

World Renowned … Still  182

Post-Game: “Here’s a hymn…” 189

Chapter Notes 197

Bibliography 212

Index 215

Book Reviews & Awards

“Bill Faucett writes about one of the great university band programs with a historian’s care for detail and a band member’s insight and passion. The historical moments come to life, the personalities are critically and sympathetically portrayed, and the band’s music resonates. Most of all, the book tells a significant and engaging story”—Douglass Seaton, Warren D. Allen Professor of Music, Florida State University; “Bill F. Faucett’s superb chronicle of one of the country’s best-known (and best, period) marching bands is written with the concise prose of a journalist, the narrative sweep of a novelist, the thoughtful objectivity of a historian, the deeper-digging obsession of a musicologist, and the Hymn to the Garnet and Gold–singing heart of a Marching Chief. Though Faucett is himself an FSU grad and Marching Chiefs alum (Flush and drum major) who now claims offspring among the Chiefs’ current ranks, this doesn’t skew his vision or keep him from shining his light into a shadowy nook and cranny or two. If anything, it may only fortify his resolve to get the story right. This is a rich and interesting tale, very well told.”—Robert S. Thurston, former Chief Arranger-Composer, United States Air Force Band, Washington D.C.