For over one hundred years the Golden Wave Band has been an integral part of Baylor University, but it was not until 1928 that new uniforms inspired a lasting name, the Golden Wave Band. That fall, under the direction of Everett McCracken, the Baylor Marching Band introduced its new golden uniforms at a Baylor-SMU football game and in the spring of 1929 the 43-member group made a tour of west Texas on behalf of the Greater Baylor Campaign. A reporter wrote the band seemed to be sweeping across the land like a golden wave!
The band program has been active since the early 1900's. A 28-piece regulation military band was organized in 1902 under the direction of Charles Parker as part of the university's R.O.T.C. program. During World War I, the military division was dissolved and the organization became known as the Baylor Bear Band. The band program suffered due to the World Wars, as was the case for most college bands on campuses across the nation. Men such as Richard D. Perry, Gideon Waldrop, and Richard L. Morse provided leadership and stability during these formative years.
The Golden Wave Band began to flourish after WWII with the arrival of numerous military veterans. Under the direction and leadership of Donald I. Moore, the Golden Wave Band improved considerably in quality and received international recognition. During Professor Moore's twenty-year tenure the band accompanied the football team to bowl appearances, represented Baylor at Baptist meetings around the world, and built a membership of 135 members. Dr. Moore was also noted for his original marches and sacred compositions.
Gene C. Smith, a Baylor graduate, became director of the Golden Wave in 1969 after Professor Moore's retirement. Smith's halftime shows were filled with energy and excitement and propelled the organization to its more modern form seen today. With this growth came the opportunity for separate concert bands in the spring term, allowing for a broadening of artistic musical opportunities for all students. The Baylor Band program saw the establishment of the Baylor Wind Ensemble in the late 60s.
Richard L. Floyd became Director of Bands at Baylor in the fall of 1972 after a highly successfully career in Richardson Independent School District. During Professor Floyd's tenure the Golden Wave performed at two Cotton Bowls and the Peach Bowl. The Baylor Wind Ensemble also developed into one of the premiere collegiate musical organizations in the United States, receiving high acclaim for its performances and recordings at conferences across the nation.
In 1982, Michael L. Haithcock was appointed Director of Bands after serving the program as the first Assistant Director of Bands for four years. He directed the Golden Wave Band from his appointment through the 1989 season. Under his direction the band grew from 188 members to a peak of 285 members in the 1985 and 1986 seasons. While maintaining numerous Baylor traditions to honor the past, the band moved toward the innovative Drum and Bugle corps style of marching and musical arranging. The Golden Wave performed at the Liberty and Bluebonnet bowls in support of Coach Grant Teaff's outstanding Baylor football teams in the NCAA Southwest Conference.
The highly popular Courtside Players pep band was also founded under Mr. Haithcock’s leadership. In 1985 the alumni band program was created. As the marching band grew the band program also grew with the addition of a third concert band and a graduate program. This growth led to a re-organization of the program and Professor Haithcock, while remaining Director of Bands, relinquished the athletic band responsibilities to concentrate on the further development of the concert and graduate aspects of the program.
Jay Gilbert, who came to Baylor as Associate Director of Bands in 1988, directed the Golden Wave Marching Band from 1988 to 1991. Chris Knighten, a Baylor graduate, was appointed Interim Director for the 1992 marching season and led the band in performance at the Sun Bowl. Gerald Luckhardt came to Baylor University as Associate Director of Bands and Director of The Golden Wave in 1993. Mr. Luckhardt's leadership prepared the band for the beginning of a new era in Baylor University athletics: the Big XII Conference. Luckhardt led the band in performances at the Alamo Bowl, secured Floyd Casey Stadium as the host site for the Texas State U.I.L. Marching Band Contest, and inaugurated the "Golden Wave Band: In Concert" series.
Jeffrey Grogan became Director of the Golden Wave Marching Band and Associate Director of Bands at Baylor University in the fall of 1997. Professor Grogan created pregame traditions such as the pregame high step run-on and the Baylor Fanfare, commissioned by Baylor Alum, Jason Nitsch. The Baylor band program was under the guidance of two directors for numerous years when the addition of the third director, Matt Smith (Assistant Director of Bands), came in 2000. Professor Grogan became Acting Director of Bands in 2001. Matt Smith became the interim Director of the Golden Wave and Isaiah Odajima, a former Baylor graduate assistant, assumed the role of Assistant Director of Bands.
In 2002, Dr. Kevin Sedatole, a Baylor graduate, became Director of Bands and Barry Kraus, another former Baylor graduate assistant, became Director of the Golden Wave Band and Associate Director of Bands. In 2003, Christopher Bianco became the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of the Golden Wave Band.
Dr. J. Eric Wilson became Baylor University's eighth Director of Bands in 2006. In the same year, former graduate assistant Colin McKenzie became the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of the Golden Wave. In 2008, Dr. Rick Espinosa joined as the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of the Golden Wave Band until 2014.
Today the Golden Wave Band is under the direction of Dr. Isaiah Odajima. He returned to Baylor in 2009 after completing a doctoral degree in conducting and serving as Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of Athletic Bands at Michigan State University. Dr. Philip Obado served as the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of the Golden Wave Band from 2014 until 2017. Mr. Steve Dailey joined as the Assistant Director of Bands and Associate Director of Athletic Bands from 2017-2021. Currently, Dr. Stuart Ivey serves as the Assistant Director of Bands and the Associate Director of Athletic Bands. Dr. Ivey joined the Baylor faculty following his completion of a Doctor of Arts degree at Ball State University.
The Baylor Band program has been a vital part of campus spirit and cultural activities for 120 years. On the field, in the concert hall and in the classroom, the Baylor University Band program has become a model of excellence with graduates "flinging the green and gold" in all walks of life.