Traditions are an important part of what makes the Mustang Band the unique organization that it is. The Band has a storied and colorful history that may be unmatched in the collegiate realm.
When SMU decided it needed a mascot as a symbol of its unified spirit, the faculty and students made nominations as to what they thought might serve the purpose adequately. On October 25, 1917, the University community voted from among four possibilities - Bison, Greyhounds, Pioneers, and Mustangs.
The contributor of the winning symbol was Miss Dorothy Amann, President Hyer's secretary. She was struck by the idea while watching the team practice from her office in Dallas Hall: "Why, out there, on the football field, it looks just like a bunch of wild Mustangs!"
On November 4, 1932, Peruna I made his first appearance at an SMU football game against Texas A&M University. The feisty black Shetland pony was a gift from Cy Barcus and Ray Morrison, the Band Director and Football Coach at the time. Named after a potent "medicine" of the prohibition era, Peruna was an immediate success as the ultimate embodiment of the Mustang spirit on the campus. When he was struck and killed by a car on Mockingbird Lane during a 1934 Halloween celebration, the entire University community went into mourning.
Since that time, SMU has been represented by eight Perunas. All of them (except the first) have been donated and cared for through an endowment opened by the Culwell family.
During the early days of the Mustang Band, Peruna accompanied the organization everywhere, appearing on theater playbills as "the midget wonder horse!"
When the Band was making its early reputation around the United States, the amazing thing to most listeners was that here was this collegiate marching band turning out high-keyed, precision, driving, articulate, genuine jazz; not those special gimmicky jazz arrangements for marching bands. The Mustang Band plays jazz-full and loud, with all the gusto of three or four stage bands blowing at the same time.
The Band has had many outstanding arrangers in its history. Bob Farrar created many fine arrangements during the 1940's and 1950's. Doug Williamson wrote voluminously for the band during the late 1950's and throughout the 1960's and 1970's. The rendition of Shanty Town that the band concludes each performance with is one of his ingenious creations. But we could not mention arrangers without including our beloved Jack Rohr. Jack was a member of the band and the student arranger when he attended SMU during the 1940's, and was the Assistant Director and Staff Arranger from 1962-1981. Jack contributed so much to the band, including Pony Battle Cry, Mod Peruna, and Dial "M" for Mustangs, not to mention dozens of years writing music for Pigskin Revue.
Tommy Tucker, III was also a member of the Mustang Band, a student arranger of the Band, an SMU alumnus, and the Associate Director and Staff Arranger from 1984-88, and 1995-present. Tommy began writing for the band during the mid-1970's and continues to create fresh, new arrangements.
Spirit and Unity
Another Mustang Band tradition is upholding our reputation as "The Hub of SMU Spirit." By standing throughout Mustang football and basketball games and cheering the Ponies on until the final whistle, the Band fulfills this vital role.
The Band also promotes a very real sense of family. The first week of Band orientation demands that all new members learn the names of their fellow band members, and all upper-class band members learn the names of the first-year members. This bonding experience is a constant comfort to remind oneself that even as a newcomer on the SMU campus, you have many friends to fall back on for help, encouragement, and fun.
The Mustang Band is especially proud of its reputation as "The Best-Dressed Band in the Land." We have more than 29 different uniforms made up of varying combinations of pants, shirts, coats, and ties. To earn and uphold the Mustang Band's reputation as "The Best-Dressed Band in the Land," band members wear one uniform for the pregame performance, and change just before halftime to another one for all Mustang football games.