When Commander Mike Alverson directed the only American band at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, he included a performance of his alma mater’s beloved “Rocky Top.”
In 2015, the Citadel Regimental Band and Pipes participated in the tattoo, a festival of music and demonstrations with an estimated broadcast audience of 400 million worldwide.
Alverson’s program treated the audience to a variety of American music including, “Moonlight Serenade,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Hound Dog.”
He said “Rocky Top” was a “pure and unabashed shout-out” to UT.
Alverson found his passion for music through a combination of experiences at UT. He was president of the UT Singers and a trombonist in the Pride of the Southland Band under WJ Julian.
“I learned so much from that man,” said Alverson. “It was an amazing experience. I had a great, great time, made great friends. Doing those circle drills was a phenomenal thing. I switched my major to music education, and Dr. Julian helped prepare me for my career.”
Julian introduced “Rocky Top” during the Tennessee-Alabama football game in 1972 and made it a fixture in the Pride of the Southland Band’s repertoire.
Alverson fulfilled a dream to join the Navy in 1971 and returned to complete his UT degree in 1995.
He had a 31-year career in US Navy bands, and directed the Regimental Band and Pipes at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, for 12 years. He retired from the Citadel in December 2015.
Since “Rocky Top” was first played at Neyland Stadium, the capacity has grown from 70,650 to 102,038. What a celebration for Commander Alverson to direct the song for millions of people around the world.