The cowboy hat. The bolo tie. The fringe. When the Longhorn Band comes marching in, there is no mistaking it for any other group. Whether you like your fringe long or short, or pine for the Colonel Sanders tie over the modern bolo, most everyone can agree that the Longhorn Band certainly has style. However, that style looked very different in the early days of LHB. The now-iconic fringe and zigzags were not instituted until 1960, nearly 50 years after the band’s establishment. So what did the early Longhorn Band look like?
The earliest photo this writer has found in the archives (so far) shows the freshmen class of 1928 in fezzes(!) and dapper, varsity-style cardigans. Perhaps these were an early version of the freshmen beanies we all know and love, or perhaps the Longhorn Band was taking a cue from their local Shriner chapter. At this time, LHB was under the instruction of Burnett “Blondie” Pharr.
A photo of the complete band in 1932 shows them in a more military-style uniform while still under the direction of Blondie Pharr. The brand-new Gregory Gym made a lovely architectural backdrop. Notice how all the fellows in darker coats make a Texas T? Respect the traditions.
The appointment of Colonel George Hurt as director in 1936 saw a massive expansion of the Longhorn Band to over 200 members, as well as the adoption of military-style marching and a continuation of the military-style uniforms. Here they are posed in front of the Main Building, which had only just been completed in 1937.
A personal favorite of this writer is the first iteration of the orange cowboy outfit which debuted in 1949, the first year Moton Crockett, Jr. served as head band director. A lovely example still lives in our archives today, and it is just as orange now as it was 70 years ago.
The embroidered shirt was paired with matching pants, cowboy boots, white ties, and white cowboy hats. The Longhorn Band showed off their snazzy new outfits during the 1949 New Year’s Eve parade in Miami, Florida, prior to the New Year’s Day Orange Bowl against Georgia. Not only did LHB win the “best dressed” award during halftime, but the football team also won 41-28 in Texas’ first-ever Orange Bowl appearance.
Though the appointment of Mr. DiNino brought many changes to the Longhorn Band, it’s clear he borrowed a lot of inspiration for the fringe from his direct predecessor. Long may it swing!