Hollywood’s local go-to band

The cool kids are marching in.

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By Chanelle Williams / Features Editor

Parade (Khai Le / Online Editor)

By Chanelle Williams / Features Editor

The cool kids are marching in.

Nicknamed “Hollywood’s Band” for being in many movies, television commercials and music videos, Riverside City College Marching Tigers are breaking the “band geek” mold.

It all began back in the early 1980s.

Dr. Charles Kane, the president of RCC at that time, had proposed that a marching band be started up at the community college, which was unheard of.

“He saw that there was a gap. You went to a football game, there was no band. You went to a basketball game, there was no band,” said Gary Locke who has been the director of the Marching Tigers since its conception.

Locke caught Kane and his administration’s interest when the high school band he was directing marched in the 1981 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the 1984 Tournament of Roses Parade.

That fall Locke came to RCC with the task of putting together a band.

“There wasn’t anything. There were no kids, no uniforms, no instruments, no room,” said Locke. He had to start from scratch.

The first meeting held for students who wanted to join was at the football stadium.
Only 16 students showed up.

“I had 172 when I left John North and I live in Redlands and that night when I drove home from RCC it was a pretty long drive.”

“It wasn’t long but it just seemed like forever and I’m like ‘Oh man, what have I done? You know, I made a huge mistake,” said Locke.

 But under the direction of Locke and his experienced staff, with hard work and hours and hours of rehearsals, the band has been nothing but a success.

Twenty-six years later, with its now 210 members, the band has been in 20 movies such as “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” “The Truman Show,” “Princess Diaries 2,” “American Pie 2” and recently released “Fame.”

 It has also been a guest on television shows like “Gilmore Girls,” “Veronica Mars,” “Monk,” “Charmed” and has recently finished filming for NBC’s “The Office” and HBO’s “Big Love.”

In music videos such as “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings, “Underclass Hero” by Sum 41 and “She’s Blowing Me Up (With Her Love) by JC Chasez the band can be seen.

As well as in commercials for Riverside Auto Center, McDonald’s, Six Flags Magic Mountain, American Eagle Outfitters and Verizon Wireless.

Aside from their career in the land of glitz and glamour, the Marching Tigers have made their mark in festivals and parades nationally and internationally in countries like England, Italy, France, Ireland, Japan and Australia.

A  big honor and  accomplishment they achieved in 1990 was being the first community college to be in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

“There is nothing junior about this junior community college band,” said Gordon Henderson, director of the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, in his letter of recommendation.

His letter is one of the many letters of recommendation from politicians and major band directors sent in with the band’s application to be in the parade.

“It was a shot in the dark,” said Locke, “but we were growing and getting better and we impressed a lot of people.”

 The great success and the opportunity to travel and be a part of a sensation serves as an incentive for students to join said Locke.

“Its not about the right notes or the wrong notes. I don’t teach notes, I teach people. I’ve been going to work for 38 years now, doing this and I still consider it not work,” said Locke.

“We’re teaching them the three most important things for life which is discipline, commitment and follow-through.’Cause what boss doesn’t want that in their employee?”

“If they’re gonna be dedicated to it, they’re gonna show up, you know that’s a big part of it. and of course we add in the ‘razz-ma-tazz’ of the entertainment value and then it’s like, cool.”

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