Monday, March 28, 2011

Epp Sykes And The Composition of "Yea Alabama"

"Epp" Sykes
The phrase, "Remember the Rose Bowl" is derived from Alabama's fight song, "Yea Alabama." The song was composed as part of a contest held by the campus humor magazine the Rammer-Jammer following the Crimson Tide victory in the 1926 Rose Bowl game. Until that time the football team's fight song had been "Swing" which had been appropriated from Washington & Lee University.

A panel composed of members of the university's music department selected the composition submitted by Ethelred Lundy "Epp" Sykes  from more than a dozen songs that were submitted.

Sykes - an engineering student who was also the editor of The Crimson White -
was awarded the $50 prize provided the magazine and "Messrs. Carmer, Friedman and Pickens." The song was unveiled in the May 1926 edition of the Rammer Jammer with the admonition:

"RAMMER-JAMMER has no power to make the student body accept the song. We do ask that the song be played on every occasion in which a battle march is needed, and, if it is liked, for the students to accept it."

Sykes attended Alabama on a four year engineering scholarship from the Alabama Power Company after coming in second for a scholarship offered by the Birmingham News. After graduating in 1926, Sykes studied law for a year at UA then became an account executive with Sparrow Advertising Agency in Birmingham.

In 1940 Sykes was called into active duty by the U.S. Air Force. He served in both World War II and the Korea conflict, eventually rising to the rank of  Brigadier General. In 1947 he donated the copyright and future royalties of "Yea Alabama" to the University of Alabama. He died on July 1, 1967.