In the fall of 1984, there was only one thing on Norfolk State University marching band member Anthony “Tony” Anderson’s mind: how to triumph over rival HBCU Hampton University’s band.
He found his answer in pop artist Cameo’s new hit.
With a self-composed arrangement of the song “Talking Out The Side Of Your Neck” ready to rehearse, his plan to stoke the fires of friendly competition began.
But he never anticipated the response that followed.
NSU’s Spartan Legion band leaders agreed to use the arrangement in their upcoming Battle of the Bay scrimmage against Hampton.
Once the entire stadium erupted in applause, the tune took on a life of its own.
While NSU adopted “Neck” as the Legion’s new anthem, Anderson recalls that because “Norfolk is a big feeding area… all the local middle school, high school, and college bands in the area started to play it [too].”
In addition to laying the foundation for school pride, skill mastery and athleticism on the field, the tune serves as a recruitment tool, attracting young musicians to seek college admission and coveted band scholarships as well.
Oh, you thought this was just about having a good time in the stands?
Alumni will tell you, the Black joy is important but this tradition is bigger than that!