Enter “James Madison”


During the 1970s many Breeze articles which mentioned the band also included contact information for the director and music department. The band even placed clip-out advertisements in The Breeze to raise student interest in joining the ensemble.  One such ad is pictured below. Although the future name change of Madison College to James Madison University had been announced, the official name change would not take place until July 1, 1977. It is interesting to note that this advertisement, dated April 22 of that year, was already welcoming in the new university status.

Advertisement from The Breeze, April 22, 1977

On July 1, 1977, Madison College officially became James Madison University. That same year, Michael Davis became the band director for the marching band at age 32. Davis received his bachelors degree from Vandercook College in Chicago and taught music in elementary and high schools. He received his master’s from the University of Wisconsin at Plattville. Other teaching jobs before Madison included directing music programs at a high school and then at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater. (Beale)

Michael Davis. From Kappa Kappa Psi presentation

As director, Davis promoted and oversaw large growth in membership and spread awareness of the band’s existence and excellence. Some of his biggest accomplishments, according to Mr. Posey, were his ability to keep pace with the growth of the university. (Posey) The band’s percentage growth was astounding; under Davis, the size went from 130 to 225 in just two or three years. Some of Davis’ recruiting events, such as travel and hosting music-related camps and competitions, will be addressed later.

Michael Davis introduced many different elements to the band. The band developed a louder sound and incorporated bluegrass and other non-traditional “band” tunes into their repertoire. He also gave the band a new look. Below are images of the third uniform worn by the MRDs. This style is more reflective of the most recent uniform in some of the shapes and swirls on the side. In the black and white image, though it features the majorette, the band and color guard uniform can still be seen. Although today color guard members have their own specific uniforms to wear, in the 1970s and 1980s the color guard often wore the same uniform as band members.


From the 1979 Bluestone, pp282.



Two students in their uniforms. Image from MRD Alumni Band Facebook Page


Works Cited:

Advertisement. The Breeze. April 22, 1977.

Beale, Theresa. “Royal Dukes turn music into entertainment for half-time fans.” The Breeze. Friday, October 13, 1978, 12-13.

James Madison University. The Bluestone. 1979.

Posey, Bill. 2012. Interview by Kayla Payne. Harrisonburg, VA. April 6.

James Madison University. The Bluestone. (1979): 282.