Formed in 1919, the "Tiger Band," as it is better known, is one of the nation's oldest collegiate marching bands. The band was reorganized in 1938 by the Friends of the Princeton Band society, which continues to provide financial support.
Since its inception, the band has performed at football games and entertained at alumni pre-game gatherings — its parade down Ivy Lane is the traditional signal for the crowd to start migrating toward the stadium. Over time, the band began performing at basketball, hockey, lacrosse and other sporting events, as well as at Reunions (since 1936), the Pre-Rade, the Commencement Procession, Deans Date, the Freddy Fox '39 Concert and other campus events. The band uniform evolved from black sweaters with white pants and bowties to black blazers with orange collars, and, in 1952, to its distinctive orange-and-black plaid jacket, black trousers, white shirt, black tie and a straw Italian "boater" hat. For hockey and basketball games, the band sports orange-and-black rugby shirts. In 1955 the band graced the cover of Sports Illustrated, and has been featured in numerous subsequent issues.
In the 1940s, the band's format gradually transformed from formal marching band formations to a comedic scramble format. Its humorous halftime shows have occasionally provoked the University administration as well as alumni and opposing schools, and the band's irreverence has led to it being disinvited from several colleges. A notable prank occurred in 1967, when ABC televised a Princeton-Harvard game and the band formed an "ABC" but then scrambled the "A" to re-form "NBC." This incident led to a long-term absence from television.
The band's 53-second version of the "Star Spangled Banner" is deemed the fastest regular rendition of the national anthem. Its repertoire features "Old Nassau," the "Princeton Cannon Song," "Going Back to Nassau Hall," the "Tiger Rag," the "Princeton Forward March," "The Tigers," "Here Comes that Tiger," "Princeton's Sons," "The Orange and the Black," as well as pop and rock tunes.
And there is its very own "Princeton University Band March":
Oh here we are,
The Princeton Band,
Playing songs of Old Nassau.
That old refrain will sound again,
And you will hear the tiger roar!
The slide trombone,
And the bass drum sounding grand!
With a boom, boom, boom!
And a zoom, zoom, zoom!
Oh, when you hear the Princeton Band!