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Eagles Pep Band

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.

"Skull said I'll make some copies and we'll hand them out in the parking lot. He printed 20,000 copies of the lyrics, a little overzealous on his part, but it worked," said Mansure. "We parked in the parking lot, and we handed out the sheets that had the words on it. You would think people throw things like that away, but we didn't see any people do that."

The band went from tailgate to tailgate, urging fans to sing with them.

"People started picking it up when we would make copies of the words and pass them out," said Mulford. "It worked out and the rest is history."

Nowadays, the fight song is sung at the beginning of every home game, after every touchdown, and after every victory! If hearing the song at home wasn't enough, it also travels with the team.

"When the year 2000 rolled around, we were down in New Orleans playing the Saints," continued DiMeo. "After we won, we were coming out of the Superdome and a group of people stood behind us coming out. We were amazed over the fact that they started singing the song without us coaxing them."

While they have played the Eagles' fight song in front of 70,000 fans for decades, hearing the crowd roar is a new experience every time. There's one thing the band likes to focus on when they are performing the song.

"One thing we love about it is that every group, every person, every individual is different in how they embrace it," Mansure said. "And one thing you can't lie about is someone's eyes. When you look at somebody's eyes and they sing it, the song is a byproduct of our unbridled passion."

"The song is bigger than we'll ever be," DiMeo chuckled.

From being the life of the party at an Eagles tailgate to singing the fight song with football legends, the Pep Band has had its fair share of memorable moments. But, they all agreed that there was one moment they will never forget – the Super Bowl Parade of Champions. Standing at the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pep Band overlooked the fans who packed the Parkway.

"Once we got to the museum steps and we kicked off the ceremony with the fight song, it was unbelievable," Saunders said. "That's a great proud moment for me. With all these people watching, enjoying, cheering, and here we are the Pep Band doing this fight song."

"It was like, 'Oh my God, this is crazy, just seeing the sea of hands.' Once again, the eyes, looking at this huge group of people," Mansure continued. "It was spectacular, especially when we first left Lincoln Financial Field and made the right going down Broad Street, there were millions of fans for as far as you could see. It was surreal."

The band could reminisce about the parade for hours, and honestly, who couldn't. The Eagles Pep Band doesn't only show up for games as they've brought their music to hundreds of different places and events. Fans can request the band for weddings, charitable and community events.

On top of being a part of the band, all four members are full-time musicians, and even with their busy schedules, they still make time to be a part of other people's special moments.

"We were performing at a hospital and going through the different wings, where some of the patients couldn't leave the room," said Saunders. "Those were special moments for me too because to go there, play the song, and see the smiles on their faces with all that they're going through, but still smile while we were there and having them sing with us was special."

"When we perform at weddings, it's always a surprise for someone, the bride or the groom. We walk in and the expressions are priceless. It's the best thing in the world. It's just the reaction because what we're doing, we're taking a piece of Eagles football and taking it from the 50-yard line to the center of the dance floor. And they're flabbergasted," said Mansure. "That is the gas that keeps us driving, is seeing people's reactions."

As the fight song continues to be an Eagles tradition, the Eagles Pep Band will never get tired of singing it with the fans. This tradition of the fight song will last for generations.

"It makes us feel proud that we could be part of people's experiences, their own untol stories from maybe their grandfather who was an Eagle fan and he never got to see a Super Bowl," said Mansure. "Every time the song is played, they get to live the stories for the lives of other people. We've been blessed to do this for 25 years."

"I think it's great. It's a legacy that will go on forever," DiMeo said.

"We still pinch ourselves," Mulford said. "Super surreal. It's been quite a trip. It still is and always will be."

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