The Story Behind “Hail Varsity” and the “Band Song”

Thank you to Cornhusker Marching Band alumnus, Becca Wolf, for sharing her story with us and David Max for writing the article with help from the Wolf and Tollefsen familes. Please read the full story from Husker Max.

“Everyone is familiar with the NU fight song “Hail Varsity” that is played by the Cornhusker Marching Band at every Huskers game. “Hail Varsity” was composed in 1936. The lyrics were written by Joyce Ayres, a 1930 Nebraska graduate, and the music was composed by Wilbur Chenoweth.
However, “Hail Varsity” was not played before or during Nebraska’s game against Stanford in the 1941 Rose Bowl because of a nationwide strike by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), a music licensing organization that pays royalties to composers of licensed music.
Instead, a few members of the Cornhusker Marching Band composed their own “Band Song” which was performed for the first time in the 1941 Rose Bowl parade and game. Today the Cornhusker Marching Band proudly performs the “Band Song” as a prelude to “Hail Varsity”.
The Wolf family was very instrumental (pun intended) in the creation of the “Band Song” and being part of the Cornhusker Marching Band through generations. Special thanks to their family friend Tay Tollefsen for bringing this to our attention and allowing us to share the story behind the “Band Song” with you.
DeWayne Wolf from Kearney was a member of the NU Marching Band in 1940. He has since passed away in 2015 at age 92. Here are some of his memories that he wrote in 2012.”

Max, D. (2018 August 21) The Story Behind “Hail Varsity” and the “Band Song”, Husker Max, retrieved from
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1 Response to The Story Behind “Hail Varsity” and the “Band Song”

  1. Gary Steffens says:

    The story of both songs is also told in Pride of the Cornhuskers including comments from both Joyce Ayres and Wilber Chenowith.

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