Dr. Alexander Pickard, who led Marching Mizzou for nearly two decades and orchestrated its transformation into a high-profile university band, died Tuesday at the age of 83.
Dr. Pickard, a Juilliard- trained trumpet player, was the director of Marching Mizzou from 1966-82 after serving as the assistant band director for five years. Until he retired in 2002, he was director of bands at the MU School of Music.
Under his leadership of Marching Mizzou, the band became more theatrical, producing elaborate halftime performances during football games with innovative routines like the famous “Flip-Tigers.”
The band also introduced the now-beloved “MIZ-ZOU” chant during Missouri’s 22-21 victory over Ohio State in 1976 in Columbus, according to the university website. In addition, new spirit groups including Mini Mizzou and the Golden Girls evolved during his tenure, and he conducted the halftime show at seven bowl games.
Dr. Pickard guided Marching Mizzou onto an international stage, as well. In the 1970s, he took the band to London where they performed at soccer and rugby matches in Wembley, Twickenham and Chelsea stadiums.
In 2011, band alumni celebrated the 50th anniversary of his 1961 arrival on campus during the Homecoming game. On the Mizzou Alumni Association site, he was described as having a “charismatic, loving-drill-sergeant style.”
“His ability to inspire fun, hard work and excellence resulted in a large number of Marching Mizzou alums who have an admittedly biased feeling that those years were Marching Mizzou’s greatest era,” according to the Alumni Association.
The College of Arts and Science at MU recently established the Dr. Alexander Pickard School of Music Building Fund with a goal of $100,000.
Gifts to the fund will recognize the legacy of Dr. Pickard and honor him in the new School of Music building. As of this week, more than $50,000 had been raised.
Alexander Pickard Marching Mizzou scholarships are awarded each year to one or more outstanding students enrolled in Marching Mizzou.
Services for Dr. Pickard have not been announced. Arrangements are under the direction of Parker-Millard Funeral Service & Crematory.