A sad day for Rattler nation

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: August 28, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Dr. William Patrick Foster, the founder, and creative genius, of the internationally acclaimed Florida A&M University (FAMU) Marching “100” Band passed away early Saturday morning after a brief illness.

He was 91 years old.

For more than 50 years, Foster transformed halftime into showtime. His unique style of band pageantry dazzled millions the world over with their showmanship and musicianship.

Foster’s emphasis was always on music first, and his marching bands sounded like moving orchestras.

Dr. Foster truly revolutionized marching band techniques and reshaped the perception of the art form.

His doctoral thesis “Band Pageantry” became must read material for scores of marching band directors.

Foster published over 18 articles for professional journals, 4 published marching band shows, and is composer of Marche Brillante, National Honors March, March Continental, and Centennial Celebration.

Dr. Foster began his walk to fame at FAMU in June of 1946.

His creation, the internationally famous 329-piece FAMU Marching Band, for which he created more than 200 half-time pageants, has appeared in three films, three commercials, numerous magazine and newspaper articles, 60 Minutes, 20/20 and PM Magazine telecasts and 34 televised performances on all networks with a viewing audience of over five billion people.

The FAMU Marching Band was presented the prestigious Sudler Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy on October 26, 1984.

In 1989, the French chose Dr. Foster and his band as America’s official representative in the Bastille Day Parade, celebrating the Bicentennial of the French Revolution.

In January 27, 1996, the FAMU Marching Band was the center-piece of the Opening Ceremonies of the Walt Disney Indy 200. The Band was also the featured attraction at the 15th and 25th Anniversary National Telecast of Walt Disney World in 1986 and 1996.

Dr. Foster is credited with revolutionizing marching band techniques and reshaping the world’s concept of the collegiate marching bands. He is credited with being the driving force behind the nation’s most innovative college band; revolutionizing marching band techniques, and reshaping the world’s concept of the collegiate marching bands.

He has been labeled the Law, the Maestro, musical and organizing genius, the greatest band director in the country, trend and pacesetter, and creator. He is the former director of the prestigious McDonald’s All-American High School Band (1980-1992).

Dr. Foster was the first recipient of the United States Achievement Academy Hall of Fame Award and the Outstanding Educator Award presented by the School of Education Society of the University of Kansas Alumni Association.

In 1992, Sports Illustrated declared the 100 as the best marching band in the country. In 1998 he was inducted as a Great Floridian by the Museum of Florida History.

President Clinton nominated and the United States Congress approved Dr. Foster as a member of the National Council on the Arts.

Dr. Foster is a member of the Hall of Fame of the following organizations: Music Educators National Conference; the Florida Music Educators Association, Florida A&M University Sports, the National High School Band Directors, and the Afro-American Hall of Fame.