Spirit of Alabama: Million Dollar Band shines through history


No one is positive how the University of Alabama marching band got the name the Million Dollar Band. However, the most common and logical story comes from a newspaper writer back in the 1920s. Alabama was beaten badly by Georgia Tech and the newspaper guy said: “The team didn’t do so well but the band sounded like a million bucks.”

Hence, the name the Million Dollar Band.

Today the band is made up of 400 members and is likely one of the best-known university bands in the nation. Brooke Elder from Walker County is a drum major for the band and loves the excitement that comes with performing in front of 100,000 people.

“The most amazing thing ever when you’re in pregame is when all of the fans are screaming,” Elder said. “There is no feeling that compares.”

MDB Drum Major Chris Mack is proud of his achievement, and also proud that he’s the first African American drum major in 17 years.

“My favorite experience has been coming out here every day, helping the band every day,” Mack said. “Marching band camp was probably the best one I’ve had in the past three years. Just being able to conduct people, it’s been an honor and I love it.”

Kenneth Ozzello has been director of the Million Dollar Band for 15 years and involved in the University of Alabama music program for 30. Simply put, Ozzello believes he has one of the best jobs around.

“I have a great job working for such a wonderful university and have such great students,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have this position.”

Being a member of the Million Dollar Band comes with a lot of hard work.

They put in almost as much practice time as the football team. But as chaotic as practice seems sometimes, all that works ensures flawless performances that proudly showcase the best the University of Alabama has to offer.

If you have a Spirit of Alabama report you’d like us to consider, email spiritofalabama@wvua23.com.

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