From the 700 level to the 50-yard line, the Eagles Pep Band celebrates its 25th season
By Jillian Oddo
Change was a consistent theme for the Eagles 25 seasons ago. The Eagles organization embraced and welcomed four talented musicians who make up the Eagles Pep Band. The Pep Band not only brought new energy to the gameday experience, but it brought the current rendition of the fight song.
"I just had this idea that it would be cool to have a small informal group of musicians to be able to play the parking lots, but more importantly, connect with fans. Just to interact, engage, and excite them," said Eagles Pep Band Frontman and Tenor Sax, Bobby Mansure. "That was the concept. We pitched the idea to the Eagles, and we got a call back. Now, we've been here for 25 years."
At first, fans probably didn't even recognize the new band because they blended in so well, but that's exactly what they wanted. They were die-hard fans who looked to bring additional entertainment to Eagles Nation.
"We were huge fans, blood and guts. It helped to know the demographic," continued Mansure. "We knew it was going to work because we were fans. We're from here. We live here. We'll die here."
Going back to games at Veterans Stadium, the band would sit up in the legendary 700 level, getting the crowd pumped up and enjoying the game. The Eagles Pep Band is still made up of the same four musicians from 1996 – Mansure is the Frontman and Tenor Sax, Brian Saunders is Lead Saxophone, Anthony "Skull" DiMeo is on the Guitar/Banjo, and Bruce Mulford plays the Upright Bass.
Not only did the Eagles Pep Band build themselves from the ground up, but they ignited an Eagles tradition with the creation of the current version of the Eagles' fight song used today. Whether it's at a tailgate or after scoring a touchdown, the Eagles' fight song is a valued tradition for Eagles fans everywhere. Two members of the Eagles Pep Band, Mansure and Saunders, resurrected and recreated the original fight song, The Eagles Victory Song. Hearing the song all these years later continues to give them goosebumps.
"It's surreal. You would think that people would take this kind of thing for granted over time, but there it is, again, it feels just as special as the first time that I heard it," said Saunders. "Nothing's changed with it. I could watch the game and hear that song and I get the same feeling."
The current anthem wasn't always played at games. Back in the 1950s, there was a fight song called The Eagles Victory Song written by Charles Borrelli and Roger Courtland that was performed by a 200-member marching band called The Sound of Brass. Mansure and Saunders felt they could transform it and make it part of the modern gameday experience.
"I mean, it's not that creative when you think about it, but people loved it," explained Mansure. "They embraced it because that's what Philadelphia does."
Mansure and the Eagles Pep Band did not expect fans to accept it right away. They wanted the fans to learn the lyrics. They spent time teaching people the words to the new song. The band printed out the lyrics and handed them out to fans.