The Complete Aggie Band-uh! History
by Jim Berry
In August 1929 the University of California sent J. Price Gittinger to the University Farm in Davis, CA to establish a music program. His first accomplishment was the formation of a pep band to play for campus football games. This was the beginning of the California Aggie Marching Band.
From the beginning to the present the Cal Aggie Band has always been an all-volunteer organization. Members receive no credits or compensation for their efforts, just the satisfaction of playing for their teams, their University, and themselves. The all-volunteer element of the Band is both a strength and a weakness. In 1930 there was no Band due to a lack of interest. That interest returned in 1931 and the Band has been going strong ever since.
The Cal Aggie Band remained an in-the-stands pep band until 1938 when J.R. "Doc" King, a Pomology professor, taught them how to march. The Band was known for being led by a Drum Majorette rather than a Drum Major from 1939-1943. Then World War II suspended Band activities while the U.S. Army Signal Corps took over the campus.
An Identity Takes Shape
After the war, Drs. Gittinger and King reformed the Band as school started up again. The Band now included not only college freshmen straight from high school, but also ex-GIs returning home and cashing in on the GI Bill. It was these ex-servicemen who injected a raucous and ribald element into the Band that would remain for decades.
In the 1950's the Band became student run. The positions of Student Director, Drum Major, Librarian and Stunt Committee Chair were elected from the Band by its members. Though additional officer positions have been created, this student-run status has changed little since.
Consistent with the national trend at the time, UCD's student body voted in 1961 to make the Cal Aggie Marching Band an all-male band. The Band would not be coed again until 1972 when federal law forced the reintegration of women.
In 1962 the Band was chosen to represent California at the Seattle World's Fair. This would be the Band's first, but not last, major trip.
The CAMB of Today
The Band's alter ego was formed in 1963. Until recently known as the Mav'rik Band, this looser version of the Band plays at basketball games and many other informal events. It is with this personality of the Band's that most people are familiar. In their traditional white shirts and denim jeans, topped off with distinctive black slouch hats covered with buttons and badges, the Band can show up anywhere for a performance, and usually does.
The Band traveled to Atlantic City in 1972 to root on the Aggie football team in the Boardwalk Bowl. Ten years later they would travel to the Palm Bowl in Texas for the same reason. The Aggie Band has a long tradition of supporting their team at home and away regular season football and basketball game. One past great Aggie football coach asserted that the Band was worth fourteen points per game.
In 1983 the Band recorded its first album, and two years later made its first international trip, to Romania and Austria.
The Band keeps alive the Cal Aggie Spirit at UCD through its support of the athletic teams and the University in general. The Band has earned its title: The Pride of the Regents of the University of California, the Spirit of the Davis Campus, the One, the Only, the California Aggie Marching Band-uh!