Marching Illini Firsts

Troughout its history, the Marching Illini has continued to innovate and try new ideas. We have continued to exhibit A. A. Harding's motto of "Always Something New." The many accomplishments and innovations associated with the Marching Illini include:
  • Birthplace of the college concert band - first formal concert given in 1890, with peformances as early as 1872
  • First school song - Illinois Loyalty was first performed March 3, 1906
  • First college to use Sousaphones - upright bell model sousaphones were purchased in 1906-1907
  • First halftime show - in 1907 for the University of Chicago game
  • First to form school letters (Block I in parade)
  • First Homecoming - first celebrated in October, 1910
  • First Dad's Day - first celebrated in November, 1920
  • First Mom's Day - first celebrated in 1921
  • Performed at first football game broadcast on radio (band was heard on WGN experimental play-by-play broadcast, probably in 1924)
  • First to sing a�capella on the field - in the Quad Cities during a trip to Iowa in 1920
  • First school symbol - Chief Illiniwek made his first appearance in 1926
  • First student card section (Block I)
  • Referred to by John Phillip Sousa as "World's Greatest College Band" in the 1920s
  • First band to have its own band building (in the 1930s)
  • First to have a giant school flag
  • First to march mallets at the college level
  • First college marching band to release a compact disc ("The Marching Illini" in 1986)
  • First college band to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland in 1992
  • First Band with a website - first advertised in April, 1994.
  • Performed at the first televised football game and the first football game televised in color.
  • First band to use field bugles in a field show (1913-14), thus making the Marching Illini the first drum and bugle corps