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A Saturday musical tribute to the late Jerry Buss

by Brett Padelford
Jerry Buss earned his PhD in physical chemistry from USC in 1957. (Photo/courtesy of USC Athletics)
Photo: Jerry Buss earned his PhD in physical chemistry from USC in 1957. (Photo/courtesy of USC Athletics)

The USC Trojan Marching Band will present a tribute to the late Jerry Buss PhD ’57, Hall of Famer and longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Sept. 14 at the USC vs. Boston College football game.

This special halftime show at the LA Memorial Coliseum will feature Buss’ favorite songs, a performance by the Laker Girls and an appearance by members of the Buss family.

“Dr. Buss was a longtime friend of the band,” said Director Arthur Bartner, who knew Buss for more than 35 years. “It is a great honor to pay tribute to him at halftime and a privilege to play his favorite Laker Band songs. We’re thrilled to have the world-famous Laker Girls perform with us and to welcome his family to the field.”

A graduate of USC, Buss earned his doctorate in physical chemistry. Throughout the years, he gave millions to the university to endow faculty positions, supported the Athletic Department’s scholarship fund and was a regular at USC athletic events. Buss was also one of the biggest supporters of the Trojan Marching Band, dating back to the 1970s.

After he purchased the Lakers in 1979, Buss brought “Showtime” to LA by asking the marching band’s best musicians to become the Laker Band and bringing the USC Song Girls to dance at halftime as the Golden Girls. The Golden Girls later developed into the Laker Girls and lost their affiliation with USC, but the Laker Band has performed at every home game since.

On Saturday, the Trojan Marching Band will present the Laker Band’s greatest hits. Starting off with the Laker Band’s traditional pregame song, “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from the movie Rocky, the Trojan Marching Band will perform Louis Prima’s “Just a Gigolo,” Buss’ favorite, which is now played at the end of every Laker game. The Laker Girls will then dance to the Trojan Marching Band’s trademark anthem, “Tusk,” a request of Buss’ whenever USC beat the University of California, Los Angeles.

In addition, the band will spell out “BUSS” on the field, a rare distinction that has only been given to a select few Trojans. After honoring members of the Buss family, “I Love LA” — the victory song at the end of Laker games — will close the show.

The game kicks off at noon PST; halftime begins at approximately 1:30 p.m.