Remembering Legendary LSU Director of Bands Emeritus Frank Wickes

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BATON ROUGE – The LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts and LSU Department of Bands are saddened to confirm the passing of Frank B. Wickes, LSU director of bands emeritus, at the age of 82.

“Dr. Wickes was a legendary, larger-than-life figure as Director of Bands,” said Todd Queen, Dean of the LSU College of Music & Dramatic Arts. “He was extraordinarily committed to LSU, the School of Music, and his discipline. Without his unparalleled vision, the Department of Bands and the Tiger Marching Band would not be where they are today. Over his many decades of teaching, hundreds of thousands in the LSU community were witness to his incredible contributions to the musical arts in the classroom, the concert hall, and the pantheon of Tiger Stadium. We deeply mourn his passing.”

Wickes, the Carruth Alumni Professor Emeritus, held the position of director of bands at LSU from 1980 to 2010, where he conducted the LSU Wind Ensemble, taught courses in graduate wind conducting and literature, and served as director of the Golden Band from Tigerland. During his tenure, the Tiger Band was repeatedly recognized on national and international levels for extraordinary excellence. In 1997, the Tiger Band was unanimously named the outstanding marching band of the SEC in a poll taken of the SEC directors by the Northwest Arkansas Times Newspaper of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and in 2002 the LSU Tiger Band received the Sudler Trophy for a distinguished history of marching and performance excellence. In 2008 the Tiger Band won the “Battle of the Bands,” a college marching band contest sponsored by ESPN, Lucasfilm and Paramount Pictures. In 2009, the Tiger Band was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame.

Personal honors for Wickes were numerous. They include an endowed Alumni Professorship in 1999, an April 1994 cover story feature in the Instrumentalist Magazine, the Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Medal in 1996, the Phi Beta Mu National Bandmaster of the Year in 1998, the National Band Association Presidency (1988-1990), the Southern Division CBDNA Presidency (1988-1990), and the American Bandmasters Association Presidency (1997-1998). In 2008 Wickes received the National Band Association’s highest honor, the Academy of Wind and Percussion Arts Award for excellence and exceptional service to the band profession. In 2009 he was elected to the Louisiana Music Educators Hall of Fame, and in 2010 he was inducted into the National Band Association Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors. Also in 2010, he received the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic Medal of Honor. In 2019, Wickes received an honorary Doctor of Arts from LSU, in recognition of his enormous contributions to the university and the LSU Department of Bands.

Prior to his college teaching career, Wickes taught for fourteen years in the public schools of Delaware and Virginia. His Fort Hunt High School Band of Fairfax County, Virginia, (1967-1973) was honored by the John Philip Sousa Foundation with the Sudler Order of Merit as one of the nation’s most outstanding high school programs for the decades 1960-1980. From 1973-1980 he served as Director of Bands at the University of Florida and in 1976 was named Teacher of the Year in the University of Florida’s College of Fine Arts.