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The World Famous Cowboy Band Turns 100 By: Marlee Sorrells

Hardin-Simmons University’s World-Famous Cowboy Band celebrated its centennial anniversary April 28-30. There were several events for the public and alumni to attend including a performance at the Paramount Theatre.

The Cowboy Band was formed by Dewey O. Wiley (D.O.) who was hired by the University in 1920 to teach violin. Wiley would eventually leave Abilene to form a marching band for what is now Texas Tech University. Coincidentally, Texas Tech is also celebrating its centennial this year.

“There is nothing quite like the Cowboy Band in the entire world,” Billy Harden, Director of Bands said. “The band is wild and crazy. It is so much fun to march in things like the St. Patrick’s parade and hear the reaction from the crowds. There is also a strong brotherhood that comes with being a band member. You form bonds that are really hard to break.”

The celebration kicked off with an informal dinner on April 28 at The Local. There was a Foundation breakfast and meeting on April 29. That afternoon, both the University Concert Band and the World-Famous Cowboy Band played a concert at the Paramount Theatre.

“I never realized how phenomenal our band has been until the concert,” Kara Cooper, a freshman communication sciences and disorders major from Fort Worth, said. “The band really shone at the event, even with three amazing choir students singing with them.”

Later that night, the band hosted a Centennial Banquet at the Motis Building in Downtown Abilene where every band director from the band’s history either attended or had family represent them.

“It was really neat to see every band director represented,” Harden said. “The family members of the first three band directors attended and every one afterward attended themselves.”

The weekend concluded with a worship service in Logsdon Chapel on Sunday. The sermon was preached by Chuck Davis, a former Cowboy Band member and incoming president of the HSU Board of Directors. The music was led by two former Cowboy Band members, Tony Garrett and Sam Ray. The band also performed at this service.

The Cowboy Band is a unique experience from the uniforms they ware to the way they march. There is always room for more on the cow-stepping band. If a current student would like to get involved with the band, just contact the current director and let them know about your interest.

“The band is only as good as the members in it,” Harden said. “I would love for more of the musical students on campus to use their talents in the Cowboy or Concert Bands.”


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