"The University of California Marching Band is under the direction of Robert. O. Briggs..."
Those words were as much part of the Cal football game experience as the drum major throwing the baton, the cannon firing on Tightwad Hill, or the "Roll On You Bears" chant the first time the Bears crossed midfield. Dr. Briggs was the director of the Cal band from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. A Cal alumnus himself, Briggs was an undergraduate during the glory years under Pappy Waldorf -- Briggs had the great privilege of marching in three consecutive Rose Bowls as a member of the Cal Marching Band.
Dr. Briggs died on September 17, 2008, at the age of 81. Oski.com paid tribute to Cal's longtime band director:
During Bob's time as director of the Cal Band, the Band made an extensive national tour in honor of the Bicentennial of the United States in the Summer of 1976 . The Cal Band's opportunities to perform at bowl games improved during his tenure as well, as the fortunes of Cal Football improved; in 1979 the Cal Band performed at its first bowl game since the 1959 Rose Bowl, the Garden State Bowl in New Jersey. During Bob's time, the Cal Band would march in three more bowl games and make an appearance at a conference game in Tokyo.
Because of the unique organization of the Cal Band as a student-run University activity, Bob Briggs had to balance the dynamics of a vigorous and youthfully demanding student government with the requirements and politics of the larger university administration. In a position fraught with potential conflicts and burdened with competing and often contradictory demands, Bob's non-confrontational style served the Cal Band and the University well.
In his earlier days as director, Bob was more formal and reserved in his relationship with band members. He was most often addressed as "Mr. Briggs." In later years, Bob developed a more casual style and later generations of Cal Band members know him best as simply, "Bob."
Upon his retirement in 1995, at the recommendation of Chancellor Tien, President of the University Peltason appointed Bob Director Emeritus of the University Of California Band. In retirement, Bob r emained active in music, helping to organize the Solano Winds, a community musical ensemble, and serving as its conductor for the past 13 years. In 2005, Bob celebrated his fiftieth year as a director with a special Solano Winds concert.
On December 1, 2006, the Cal Band Alumni Association presented Bob with its Tony Martinez award in recognition of his many contributions to and accomplishments with the Cal Band during his long association.
Bob was an avid enthusiast of automobiles, both the classics and more modern creations. He often used one or another of his antique sedans to transport Cal Band brides and grooms to their wedding ceremonies, acting as chauffeur, a role he relished.
In his six decades of association with the Cal Band, Bob touched thousands of lives. He will be long remembered by generations of Cal Band members and Cal Band fans.
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