Dr. Long took the ‘Sound of the South’ to national prominence

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

During Troy’s football game with UMASS earlier in the season, a special treat was added for Trojan football fans. The Troy University “Sound of the South” Alumni Band added to the already great pageantry.

Nowhere in America will you see a more impressive band presentation than what you saw on that Saturday. It was Band Appreciation Day at Troy University and the 350 members of the Sound of the South were joined by the Alumni Band.

Very few colleges in the country have a marching band that ranks with the football team as far as its importance to the school.

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The Sound of the South is just that at Troy, without any argument from anybody.

It all started back in 1965 when then-Troy-president Dr. Ralph Adams hired the Robert E. Lee High School of Montgomery band director Johnny Long to run the band program at Troy.

He was already a legendary band director at Lee High School and the people of Montgomery made it hard for him to leave.

He took the job after a long telephone call from Alabama Governor George C. Wallace and the rest is history!

He took Troy’s band to national prominence in a very short time. For 30 years Long’s Sound of the South Marching Band put Troy University on the map as one of the top bands in the United States.

For years his bands appeared at special events all over the country and represented Alabama in three presidential parades.

Not only did he build a great band; he helped attract hundreds of Montgomery-area students to Troy, and Troy began to grow as a school in the mid sixty’s and 70’s. 

Through his national appeal, Long was able to bring in the National Band Master Hall of Fame to Troy 40 years ago. To my knowledge, it’s the only national hall of fame in Alabama. It has brought great prestige to our University across the country. Some people across the nation call Dr. Long the Bear Bryant of college band directors. He was that great.

He produced over 1,000 high school band directors in his 30-year career. In fact, they came from everywhere to play for him. Every state in the country has had a band member play for Dr. Long at Troy.

He’s already received almost every national and international award a Band Master can get.

At the age of 93 Dr. Long and his wonderful wife of 64 years Mary Lynn still live in Troy and remain active in the church and organizations including the Troy Rotary Club, where he is a past president and a Paul Harris Fellow.

I’ve been friends with Dr. Long for many years and I’m proud of it. He’s a great man who always makes the people around him feel special. That’s why he is loved by the thousands.

Today the Sound of the South remains one of the great marching bands in America. All three of the band directors that have followed him will tell you that he’s been their strongest supporter. As one former director said, Dr. Long is like a father to all of us.

Every time I hear the Sound of the South play their Fanfare I get chill bumps, especially when the announcer says “So sit back and relax. Here’s the Sound of the South.”

Thank you Dr. Johnny Long.