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about 3 years ago
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Blue Band Scraps Glitter’s “Rock and Roll”

Blue Band

If you’ve attended a basketball game since students returned from winter break, you may have noticed something a little different coming from the pep band. The crowd favorite ‘Rock and Roll, Part Two’ is gone, and according to Dr. Richard Bundy, the director of the Blue Band, it’s gone for good.

Bundy says the Blue Band has been playing the song since the mid-80′s, and that it’s always gotten the best crowd reaction and participation. The Blue Band typically plays the song before the football team comes out of the tunnel and during other points of the game, as the crowd loudly spells out “P-S-U” following three short build-ups. Many of you may recall that the song was not played during the game against Nebraska this year in lieu of the players walking out of the tunnel to mid-field for a prayer.

‘Rock and Roll’, also known as ‘The Hey Song’, was written by British glam rock artist Gary Glitter in 1972. Glitter is a registered sex offender, and was convicted of possession of child pornography in 1997. He was convicted again in 2005, for obscene acts with minors.

“At the time of the first conviction, I received a flurry of concern about using the song,” Bundy said. “Through the years, every season, I would get e-mails questioning our use of that song. In 2005 when he was convicted again, I received another flood of e-mails questioning the decision.”

The NFL even banned its teams from using the song in stadiums beginning in 2006, but the Blue Band continued to play the anthem on the grounds that it wasn’t compensating Glitter. Instead, they had an agreement to use the song whereby no money or any other type of compensation was exchanged. This all changed in early November when the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse allegations were made public, and Bundy decided to alter the song.

“When the Sandusky situation broke, we got another flurry of e-mails requesting us to stop using the song,” Bundy said. “I thought it would be helpful to break ties with the song because of what Gary Glitter was convicted of. Playing his music doesn’t insinuate support for sexual abuse, but I didn’t want to give the media and Penn State critics any other thing to bash us about.”

The song has now been completely purged of Glitter’s influence. Instead, the tune begins with a few verses from Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ followed by the beginning of the Penn State fight song, ‘Fight on State.’ The idea is that fans will say “Fight on State” during each of the three buildups followed by the appropriate “P-S-U.”

“I wanted to keep the same form and traditional crowd responses with a couple minor changes so it no longer has anything to do with ‘Rock and Roll, Part II’,” Bundy said.

The first time I heard the new version was in Dallas during the TicketCity Bowl. As someone who has been humming the Penn State version of ‘Rock and Roll’ for most of my life, it takes some getting used to. Every student I’ve spoken to agrees that the new version doesn’t sound nearly as good as the original version. But I believe that if the crowd begins to yell “Fight on State” along with “P-S-U”, it could create another a cool gameday element.

As Bundy put it, “I’d rather explain this change to Penn State people than explain to a critic why we’re still playing it.”

24 Responses to “Blue Band Scraps Glitter’s “Rock and Roll””

psugirl06 says:

Considering the history—I can see why they felt a change had to be made.  It definitly will take some getting used to I’m sure, but it almost seems appropriate that the last time Rock and Roll was played was also the last game Joe Paterno coached, and that a new tradition will start when Bill O’Brien coaches his first game.  

Dave says:

Everyone calm down. The song is almost the EXACT same. The only major change is the “fight on state” part, which seems a little awkward to fit in, but if everyone followed along it would sound sweet.

JsG says:

I’m glad Dr. Bundy was honest about this, and has essentially called the media and the people writing him letters a bunch of fools.  Because they are.

“Playing his music doesn’t insinuate support for sexual abuse…” EXACTLY.  Anyone who thinks it does is… at best, misguided, but probably just at least a little stupid.

“… but I didn’t want to give the media and Penn State critics any other thing to bash us about.”

Again, EXACTLY.  It’s sad it had to end this way, but he’s right, the fools out there who want to point at every little thing and infer things that can’t logically be inferred will do that, and he’s just taking the now media crazed childe sex abuse spotlight away from the Blue Band, because, it has no place being on them for any reason, or even fake reason.

Swaggasaurus Rex says:

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Ever since I was a kid this was one of my favorite things about PSU games… but I understand why the change had to be made, the school has enough negative PR to deal with these days.

But seriously, damn!

Evan Ponter says:

Penn State seems to cling to tradition too often. I’m glad to see the Blue Band update their playlist from when my mom was in college. Get over it, old heads(and zomblie-like offspring of old heads).

Mike Young says:

Yeah, and we should probably get rid of our lame jerseys too, they’re so outdated!! And what’s with us actually playing on grass!? It’s 2012 people, when are we gonna get blue turf!?!? Seriously why are we even playing football?? Everyone knows that Squash is the next big NCAA sport. I want to thank you for your valuable insight Evan. It’s clear that you’ve got everything figured out.

Dark Years says:

At first I thought I was going to have to post an angry comment but the YouTube video calmed my fears.  Sounds like a cool update to accompany a new time at PSU

Matthew Brady says:

It was played at the bowl game and basketball games already, so I wouldn’t say the new tradition will start when Bill O’Brien coaches his first game.

I expect a lot of alumni that hadn’t heard the new version before to complain about this again come September.

rhyle1@optonline.net says:

jeez – every damn artist in this cuountry bascially who performs rock or po has either been a druggie, a molestor or convicted of a DUI. WTF? What about Michael Jackson tunes? what a phony, hyprocite and poticially-correct BS act by the Blue Band AND the forever-gutless NFL…

Dago T says:

And yet that little NYC comic dweeb who married his step-daughter is considered an American icon and genius. Go figger.

PamZ says:

But there is no problem is honoring Michael Jackson in the half time show? Must we mess with so much tradition? When to the school colors change?

Jim Lammers says:

They have also dropped “Sweet Caroline.” You know, ” touching me, touching you.” Paraphrasing Waylon Jennings, don’t you think this P. C. bit has done got out of hand?

psugrad says:

I support this change to stop playing “Rock and Roll”… Because there are A LOT of schools that play the song with their own versions. This makes PSU more unique and gives us fans something different to rally around. It might not be as “good” as the version with Glitter’s influences, but it will be unique to PSU. FIGHT. ON. STATE.

Pete says:

Just heard it being played during the PSU/Syracuse game and thought “Why are they playing a song by this sex offender after what has happened at PSU?” Then I found this article! I guess they couldn’t stop playing it.

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