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WJ-JulianWJ Julian, one of the most innovative leaders of the UT Pride of the Southland Band, passed away peacefully this afternoon surrounded by his family. He was ninety-two.

“We have lost a beloved member of the UT family,” said Jeff Pappas, director of the UT School of Music. “Dr. Julian mentored generations of musicians during his tenure with the band. He created traditions that have strongly and positively influenced fans across the nation. He leaves behind an enduring legacy of excellence that continues to shape band members today.”

Julian led the band for more than thirty years. He was dedicated to a standard of excellence that became a trademark of the band during numerous presidential inaugurations and bowl game appearances. The band’s performance has become legendary in Knoxville and throughout the world of college football.

Julian assumed direction of the marching band in 1960 and led the group to new heights. Under his leadership, the band was known for its style, which has remained a UT tradition. He designed the uniforms still worn today, reflecting the military past of UT and the band.

The band was known not only for its level of performance, but also for its innovation of the circle-drill. In 1972, Julian introduced a new song to the fans at Neyland Stadium, “Rocky Top,” which quickly became UT’s unofficial fight song. Countless traditions were established under Julian’s leadership, including the opening of the “T” for the football team at every pregame ceremony.

In 2010, an endowed professorship was created in Julian’s honor to ensure that the university is able to attract and retain an outstanding band director.

A funeral service will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan, 425 North Cedar Bluff Road in Knoxville.

Condolence cards or notes for the Julian family can be sent to the band office:

The WJ Julian Family
c/o The University of Tennessee Bands
1741 Volunteer Boulevard
227 Natalie Haslam Music Center
Knoxville, TN 37996-2605


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,