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Over in College Park, the Man tried to silence the fans.
The Man failed.
Last month, the University of Maryland pep band was ordered by the school’s athletic department to delete the fans’ favorite fight songa raw, home-cooked version of “Rock and Roll Part 2″from its playlist at basketball games. But this ain’t the season to take on the students, not with hoops hysteria around campus at a post-Lefty high.
“We weren’t going to let the school just take that song away from us,” says Meghan Price, president of the UM Student Government Association and a leader of a successful rock rebellion. “That song is part of our tradition here.”
The tradition isn’t exclusively College Park’s, however. In fact, if you think you don’t know “Rock and Roll Part 2,” well, you’re wrong. It’s that ubiquitous: “Duh-duh duh-duh duh-duh duh… Hey!… Duh-duh duh-duh…”
Price, like most Maryland undergrads, wasn’t even born in 1972, when British glam rocker Gary Glitter released his “Rock and Roll Part 2” in the U.S.
Though he remained commercially viable in Europe for years and still tours, Glitter never made another splash on the U.S. pop charts. Lately, things haven’t gone all that swimmingly for him across the pond, either: During the very week his song was banned by College Park officials, a U.K. court considered 100 different charges that the 53-year-old Glitterreal name Paul Gaddhad possessed and distributed indecent pictures of children. The pornography counts were filed after obscene photos of minors were allegedly found stored on his hard drive by computer technicians who were repairing his PC.
For all his alleged indecencies, it was not his but the students’ behavior that inspired the recent ban of Glitter’s golden oldie in Maryland.
Glitter’s version of “Rock and Roll Part 2” has four chords and fewer words. (The lyric-intensive counterpart, “Rock and Roll Part 1,” was never a hit.) The song is essentially lyric-free, if you discount unintelligible chanting and Glitter’s fist-pumping “Hey!”s. Stadium and arena DJs and college band directors quickly grew to favor Glitter’s riff, realizing that college students and soccer fans could retain that libretto.
The Maryland band adopted “Rock and Roll Part 2” not long after it left the charts. But like their counterparts at other schools, Terps fans customized Glitter’s fluff, forging a fight song out of it. During the chorus, the tenants of the student section would scream: “Eat ’em up! Eat ’em up! Go, Terps, go!”
But by the late ’80s, the College Park faithful had apparently decided that their predecessors’ rendition of “Rock and Roll Part 2” didn’t menace visiting players and fans enough. So the refrain became, “We’re gonna beat the hell/out of you/and you/and you!” Then, “Hey! You suck!”s and assorted other vulgarities were also thrown in, to boost the fear factor.
And nobody really cared. Until this semester, that is, when Maryland’s heavy-handed and controversial athletic director, Debbie Yow, decided it was time to stop the lewdness. Yow had heard from the Atlantic Coast Conference that an “observer” who’d come to Cole Field House to rate the performance of game officials came away thinking that Terps fans were too offensive.
As punishment, Yow gave “Rock and Roll Part 2” the death sentence. Richmond Sparks, Maryland’s band director, got the orders from the AD: As of the Nov. 23 game against Duquesne, there would be no more Glitter in the field house. No announcement about the ban was made to students, however.
“There wasn’t a problem with the song itself, but with the chants that always went with it,” says Dave Haglund, assistant athletic director at Maryland. “This is shaping up to be a memorable year for Maryland basketball, and we want to be known for what happens on the court, not off it.”
Yow was already in some trouble with Maryland boosters for selling ad space on the sacred Cole Field House floor to a local bank. But now she’d really gone too far. As of tipoff of the Duquesne game, it was clear that banning “Rock and Roll Part 2” was Yow’s least popular act since she sold the football team’s home game against Florida State back to Bobby Bowden in 1996.
“That song is a very big part of going to a Maryland basketball game, and it brings everybody at Cole Field House together,” says Price. “It wasn’t like we weren’t going to miss it. And we felt like the athletic department was trying to send students a message: ‘We’re not happy with you, and though you may not think we’re in control, we are, and to prove it we’re taking away your song!’ Students don’t like to be told things like that.”
As soon as they realized that the pep band wasn’t playing its show-stopper, the fans took matters into their own hands. And mouths.
“It got pretty ugly at first,” says Price, “with everybody booing the band, booing the cheerleaders. But then we all just started singing the song on our own, without the band. That was one of the loudest, most obnoxious versions of ‘Rock and Roll Part 2’ that I ever heard.”
With the momentum gained from their a cappella performance, Price and others in the Student Government Association votedwith members showing consent with “hey” instead of “aye”to meet with Yow and ask for the ban to be repealed.
By the time that summit came off, Yow was well aware that her prohibition had about as much chance of success as Prohibition. The athletic department quickly agreed to reinstate the pep band’s right to play the fan favorite.
An hour before the Terps’ next home game, against Wake Forest, Coach Gary Williams walked onto the arena floor and delivered a surprise address to the student section about game conduct. The fiery Williams told the kids that yelling, even some cursing, would be OK, but insisted they not do anything that would merit a technical foul.
Since Williams is as revered by the Terps faithful as Yow is loathed, the fans listened and assured the coach he needn’t worry about them. After all, they’d already won the war: “Rock and Roll Part 2,” with all its impiety, was back.
“We fight big battles and we fight small battles here,” says Price. “A song may not sound like much, but, to a student, restoring traditions is a big battle. That’s what we did.”
And the kids are alright.Dave McKenna