Texas Fight is the iconic fight song of the University of Texas at Austin. Most sources note that it was written by Walter Hunnicutt, but that is not the full story of this special piece of UT and Longhorn Band history.
In the fall of 1923, Walter “Red” Hunnicutt wrote the first version of Texas Taps. Red was one of the member-elected student directors of the Longhorn Band while Burnett “Blondie” Pharr was Director of the Longhorn Band. Blondie thought the song was a good addition to the LHB repertoire and began working with Red to finalize the piece for the band to play.
Blondie asked a friend, James E. King, to help with the band arrangement. James came from a family of musicians who promoted band music all over Texas. He was Director of the Marlin High School Band during this time, later moving to Coleman. He was also one of the founders of King Music, which was the first music store in Brownwood, as well as one of the founders of Texas Bandmasters Association.
The band music was arranged, and through the cooperation of Pharr, Hunnicutt and King, Texas Taps was introduced by the Longhorn Band. The name of the piece was later changed to Texas Fight which better represented its use as the fight song of the The University of Texas Longhorns. Hunnicutt and Pharr took out a copyright on the piece (#695256) on June 18, 1928.
Why was it originally called Texas Taps? Listen closely and you will hear the familiar beginning of the bugle call Taps after the intro. Just say Taps to any current or former member of the Longhorn Band and they will be immediately ready to do a “horns up” and play one of the most recognized fight songs in the country.
Written by Barbara Helbert, LHAB Archives Committee Chair, with documentation provided by Alan Ford (LHB Trumpet, 1962-1965) from personal documents of Burnett Pharr.