The Power and Class of New England…Goodbye George Parks!

George Parks

“And now, the power and class of New England, the Minuteman Marching Band!” ¬†George Parks loved to say that every time his band would get ready to play. Since the 1970s, Parks directed the beloved UMass Band. Sadly, this week, he had a heart attack at age 57, and died during a performance at a Pennsylvania high school.

He was indeed, a man of class, bringing up decades worth of musicians and bringing the band to great glory in parades and events around the US.  Parks gave pride the humble trombone and tuba players, and elevated these marching musicians to the status they deserve. They played at Superbowls, and famous parades, and for famous people who loved their marching, their musicianship, and especially, that pride that Parks instilled in each player.
Anyone who’s attended a UMass football game has heard the way people cheer for the Band.

That huge conglomeration of hundreds of players, who play while marching, and jauntily kick out their legs and swing their trombones up and down…and all the while Parks on his perch, high enough to see all 300 of them as they play.

UMass doesn’t have that many true legends…but George Parks, bandleader extraordinaire, was indeed one of them. We’ll miss you Mr Parks, you were the power and class of New England, embodied in a humble man’s body.