On Media Gallery, view the Digital Photo Archive of the Lafayette Band
The Lafayette Band began with the opening of Lafayette High School in Lexington, Kentucky, in the fall of 1939. The first band director, Walter Wainowski, composed a short-lived school song that included the prophetic words, "We are here….to play for you, Lafayette. We will make each dream come true; first in the state, first in the land." While composer Wainowski's song was soon replaced by today's official school song, the words have become reality during the seventy-three year history of the band organization.
When Sam Rainey became band director in 1942, he needed to raise money for uniforms. Hence, the initial "fundraising" opportunity for a growing program. The band sold hands of tobacco salvaged from the 1942 crop, and appeared in uniform for the first time in the 1942-1943 school year. Rainey was soon called into military service, and Lee Crooks, director of the orchestra, substituted for two years. Clyde Stocking was director from 1945 until 1954, except for the 1947-1948 school year when Forrest Shanks was director. Shanks was a former director of a large high school band and was attending the University of Kentucky, working on a graduate degree. Walter Hall became director in 1954.
Walter Hall inherited a thirteen-piece band that had an honorable record on the stage and field, and a desire to grow. Mr. Hall introduced strict military discipline, self-control, positive organization, and the upward course was set. Under his direction, the band grew to over 150 students and was subdivided into the Wind Ensemble, Concert, and Symphonic Bands. The Grenadiers, Studio, and Pep Bands were established, and the Lafayette Band Association was incorporated. Summer band and annual tours began under Mr. Hall, and the band "cut" a record every year. Fundraising became a fact of life.
During Mr. Hall's tenure, student leaders had responsibility for many aspects of the band's operation. These included the Drum Majors, Band Manager, Band Sponsor, Student Conductor, Music Librarian, Guides, and Section Chiefs. Each of these student leaders had specific duties and was a cog in the Lafayette Band machine.
When Les Anderson became director in June 1967, he had already been a member of the Lafayette Band family for many years. Mr. Anderson was a student member, drum major, and then assistant director with Walter Hall. Anderson graduated from the University of Louisville in January of 1967 and returned to Lafayette as Mr. Hall's assistant. During Mr. Anderson's tenure at Lafayette the fife corps as part of the Grenadier Band and the Jazz band dances were begun and the band continued annual spring trips with competitions in concert, jazz, and marching bands from Virginia Beach, Va. to Orlando Florida to Rock Falls, Illinois. The demanding and rewarding schedule of performances, competitions, trips, and events continued under Mr. Anderson's direction. Jazz Band dances were initiated, both as social events and to give students an understanding of what it would be like to "gig" for a living. Mr. Anderson began the resounding call and response, "Who are you?" "Lafayette Band, Pride of the Bluegrass, Sir!" This heartfelt trademark of the Lafayette Band has resounded thousands of times, in venues across the Commonwealth and the country, from the practice field to the streets of New York City.
In 1973, J. Larry Moore came to Lafayette to lead the band in ever-increasing and even more intense competitions, as band programs were growing at a fast pace in this area. Mr. Moore ensured that the Lafayette Band would be among the best by instituting drum corps style marching performances. He established a sixteen member flag corps, and added an eight member rifle unit the following year. Lafayette percussionists marched tympani, xylophone, and marimba. Under Mr. Moore's direction, the Lafayette Band won 27 of the 34 contests in which it participated. Bill Ragsdale served as band director for one year from 1980-81 before the next transition. Having served as a student teacher under Larry Moore, Pat Dunnigan became director in 1981 and continued the Lafayette Band traditions and successes, both on the field and in concert halls, until 1986.
As Lafayette's next director, J. Steven Moore, son of Larry Moore, knew how to keep the Lafayette Band focused and motivated and he did that extremely well. Having grown up with the band and participated as a high school student, winning traditions were deeply ingrained in his being. Under his baton, the band marched in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1991, played in concert at the Mid-West International Band Clinic in Chicago, won six State Marching Band Championships, and numerous other honors. Kevin Dennison joined the staff to further develop the skills and techniques of the Jazz Band. The Lafayette Band program grew to over 200 members.
In 1996, Charles M. "Chuck" Smith succeeded Steve Moore as director. Needless to say, the Lafayette Bands have continued to earn the highest ratings in concert performance and on the marching field. Mr. Smith has continued the winning tradition, leading the band to another 11 Class AAAA and AAAAA State Championships - an incredible total of 17 KMEA state titles. Mr Smith and the Wind Symphony have performed at the KMEA Conference as a featuresd ensemble 3 times, 2001, 2006 and 2011.
Lafayette Band Directors have had vision, ingenuity, energy and commitment to excellence since the band's inception. Capable staff members including the current assistant director, Dr. Terry Magee, and his predecessors, have been the "secret weapons" of the program. The Band Association is an active and strong contributor to all aspects of the band's success. Without the desire, dedication and effort of hundreds of participants over the years, none of the countless achievements would have been possible. The Lafayette Band is a program that builds the whole person, and band members, with their fine, high level, musical efforts, truly earn the title, "The Pride of the Bluegrass®."