Friday, October 7, 2011

Colonel Carleton K. Butler & The Million Dollar Band

The national reputation of the University of Alabama's Million Dollar Band was established under the 34-year tenure of director Colonel Carleton K. Butler.

The native Ohioan came to Alabama in the 1930s after earning degrees at Youngstown State and Kent State. Initially he served as the director of the Ramsay High School Band in Birmingham as well as serving in the same capacity at Tuscaloosa High School. When the Million Dollar Band's director Captain H.H. Turner stepped down in 1935, Butler assumed the duties.

As the Alabama football team enjoyed spectacular success on the gridiron in the 1930s and 40s, the Million Dollar Band also gained a reputation for its elaborate but technically superb halftime shows. Under his direction, the band played at 14 bowl games, three Alabama governor's inaugurations and performed at the inauguration of President Harry S Truman in 1948.

The band grew from and 80-piece all male ensemble to a 130-strong co-ed unit by the time of his retirement in 1969. (He eschewed the use of majorettes dismissing them as "show business.")

Butler received the honorary title of "Colonel" from the University of Alabama Campus ROTC in 1938 and was later named an honorary colonel on the staff of Gov. John Patterson.