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IOWA Magazine | 08-18-2021

Iowa Icons: Six Hawkeye Football Musical Favorites

In our Iowa Icons series, we’re celebrating the players, moments, and traditions that define Hawkeye football. Here, we highlight a few of our favorite gameday songs that Hawkeye fans can belt out by heart.

School Songs:

While music legend Meredith Willson is known for writing Broadway’s The Music Man, his most beloved tune—at least in his home state—remains the Iowa Fight Song. Willson wrote the rousing tune at the urging of a Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist, who argued that Iowa needed a proper fight song, and Willson introduced it on his radio show in late 1950. Other UI musical traditions include “On Iowa,” written by law school graduate W.R. Law (1904LLB) for a contest hosted by the university’s Chicago alumni club in 1916; “Roll Along Iowa,” penned by business alumnus John Woodman (21BSC) and debuting at a football game in 1954; and “Alma Mater Iowa,” composed in 1960 by engineering alumnus Gene Mills (47BSEE).




Hawkeye Victory Polka:

For decades, the Hawkeye Marching Band has punctuated a win with this brassy, existential meditation of the afterlife and its beverage options. Better known as “In Heaven There is No Beer,” the one-verse Bohemian ditty sends fans—and members of the band—dancing in their seats.


Hey Jude:

Late Hawkeye Marching Band Director and School of Music Professor Emeritus Tom Davis wrote an arrangement of this Beatles ballad shortly after it was released in 1968, and the song has remained in the band’s repertoire ever since. For many years it was played before the start of the fourth quarter, and it endures as an Alumni Band favorite.


Hokey Pokey:

Hayden Fry was all business on the field, but after a big win, he liked to shake it all about with an impromptu rendition of the Hokey Pokey. Following Fry’s death in late 2019, Iowa performed the Hokey Pokey in the locker room to honor the late coach and celebrate a victory over USC in the Holiday Bowl.

All rights reserved by FRY Fest and UI Football. Hayden Fry and the Iowa Hawkeyes perform the Hokey Pokey in the locker room after beating Michigan.

Imperial March:

The Hawkeye Marching Band’s rendition of this ominous Star Wars tune makes Kinnick Stadium as imposing for visiting teams as the Death Star. When Iowa posts a defensive stop on third down, the band strikes up Darth Vader’s theme to signify a victory for the dark side, er, dark jerseys.


Back in Black:

This AC/DC classic has become a fist-pumping pregame anthem for the Hawkeyes in recent years. Ever since a stadium renovation in 2005 added a new sound system and videoboard to Kinnick, “Back in Black” has accompanied the Swarm as players make their way through the tunnel before kickoff, followed by Metallica’s Enter Sandman as they run onto the field.


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