Submitted by maizenbluedevil on July 14th, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Since it's the offseason and on-topic topics are few and far between I guess now is as good a time as any to ask this.

Anyone know the history behind the MMB playing Temptation?

IMO it's one of the best things they do, second only to The Victors.

I read on the Wikipedia entry for the MMB that they've been playing Temptation for around 40 years but that's all they said.  Was it just that a previous director was a Perry Como fan, or is there some other connection that gives the song signficance for Michigan football? 

Anyhow, I'm interested (and I'm sure others are as well) in any little-known history about it that anyone here may have the scoop on.



July 14th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

Not sure, but note that what they play after third-down stops is actually just a teaser of "Temptation" - the full song is considerably longer. (They usually only play the full version on Homecoming, right before "Hawaiian War Chant".) I'm not certain, but I think the MMB started playing the "Temptation" teaser after third-down stops sometime in the 1990s.


July 14th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

I was in the MMB from 1991-95. As I recall, band director Gary Lewis instituted the tradition of playing the short version of "Temptation" after defensive stops either in the 1993 or 1994 season. He strongly emphasized that surrounding crowdmembers (and any non-playing band members) should make a downward fist pump. The fist part was emphasized to distinguish the gesture from the Florida State "tomahawk chop" motion; FSU had visited Ann Arbor in 1991 and that could be the inspiration for the gesture.


July 14th, 2010 at 3:27 PM ^

Temptation was first performed just as part of a halftime show in the 50s.  There is no special connection that I know of- there's a lot of home games to fill, and hey here's a Perry Como song that might work.  It caught on and stuck because, as you point out, it freakin' rules. 

J.W. Wells Co.

July 14th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

Well I don't know much of the pre-MMB and Perry Como history of the song, but "Temptation" as played by the MMB was arranged by Jerry Bilik, a student in the early-to-mid 1950s.  Bilik was also the genius behind the "M Fanfare."  Apparently Bilik languished as a 17th-chair trombone before Bill Revelli discovered his composition skills.

Bilik was apparently Revelli's go-to guy for arrangements.  If you've rocked out to Revelli's and the university symphonic band's "Touchdown USA: The Big Ten" recording of concert arrangements of Big Ten fight songs, you know how talented Bilik was/is.  The arrangements are by Bilik, and they're awesome.  This was released on cassette as well (maybe CD at some point), but here's a link to the LP:


As a student at U-M, he was also highly involved with the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society (that's late-19th-century English comic opera).  He sang in the company's opera productions, directed/conducted the singers and orchestra, and even composed new music for an opera written by Gilbert & Sullivan for which the music has been lost.  The Company plans on releasing for sale a recording of that music within the next few years.  In 1954, Bilik was the conductor for the Company's production of The Pirates of Penzance. Much as Revelli loved him, he wouldn't let him out of his MMB duties; Bilik had to travel to Michigan's football game in Columbus, then figure out on his own how to hop a plane back to Ann Arbor in time to conduct the 8 PM performance.  During the 1970s Bilik arranged and conducted a Gilbert & Sullivan halftime show for the MMB.

As of the mid-1970s, Bilik still lived in Ann Arbor.  Currently, he lives in Cabin John, Maryland, but still maintains an office in Ann Arbor.  He's made his career as a composer.  In addition to arranging music for several popular TV shows, for the past several decades he has served as VP of Creative Development for Disney on Ice, and has written and arranged the music for all of the Disney on Ice shows, which he also directs.

His most celebrated original composition is "American Civil War Fantasy" (find a performance on Youtube).  In 2002 he returned to Michigan Stadium to conduct a halftime show for the 50th anniversary of the "M Fanfare" and some of his other work.

In May 2009 Bilik returned to Ann Arbor to conduct some of his own work in the Ann Arbor Concert Band's Mothers Day Concert.  His talents range from ice shows to classical to contemporary television to classic pop to comic opera.

Google "Jerry Bilik" and you'll find a lot of other info on him.  Here he is:

FWIW, you can hear a chamber band play "Temptation" during R.F. Simpson's party scene in Singing in the Rain, a movie set in 1920s Hollywood.  I assume the song goes back at least that far historically.

Bando Calrissian

July 15th, 2010 at 11:52 AM ^

Jerry Bilik is a REALLY fun person to be around.  It's fundamentally clear he's been working for Disney perhaps a little too long...  Exudes happiness and a certain whimsical goofiness that's just infectious.  Great guy, great arranger. 

When the MMB brought him back for the 50th anniversary of Temptation, he gave the band the framed original manuscript of his arrangement from the halftime show it was arranged for, which he just hauled out of a filing cabinet in his basement.  I don't know if it's been hung somewhere in Revelli yet, but it's a valuable piece of history.

One of my favorite Bilik stories, which may be slightly apocryphal, involves his senior thesis project (not sure if it's the correct term) in composition at the School of Music.  The resulting piece of music is called Michigan Rhapsody, which is occasionally performed by University ensembles to this day.  It's a kind of mash-up of every school song in the Michigan pantheon, from Laudes Atque Carmina to Varsity to the Yellow and Blue, and everything in between.  There was only one problem:  when he handed it in to Revelli, it was quickly noticed he forgot one:  The Victors!  Revelli handed it back to him, he quickly tossed it in at the end, and gave the whole thing a rousing second conclusion.  It's a brilliant little piece of arrangement with an even better ending.

Basically, Bilik is the best.  There's so many great arrangements sitting around the MMB archives just begging to be revived (hint hint...).  Enough of the abstract latin jazz and DCI-inspired stuff, let's dust off some Bilik!


July 16th, 2010 at 1:59 PM ^

I contacted a few people and here are their replies: 

Carl Grapentine (MMB announcer) wrote:

     "Both of them originated as percussion features in the 50s, and the tradition grew. Although it was not always as big--or as frequent.

When i started with the band, the post-game show did NOT include those two until at least a few weeks into the season--giving the percussion players time to learn it. Now, it's so common that they just expect everyone to learn it.

It was announcer Dan Spaulding, 1966-1968, who once said after a performance of "Temptation" at a Bandorama concert, "Why have one without the other?" in introducing "War Chant." It stuck...with a few emendations.

The two tunes were not linked in any way, other than both being Bilik percussion features. "

Carl went on to mention some esoteric issues regarding tempo which probably wouldn't interst anyone here, but this should answer the initial question. 

Richard Alder (unofficial MMB Keeper of the flame and MMB Alumni Association go-to guy) wrote me back to say:

"T and HWC were not initially connected. Under WDR, post-game shows were not just re-hashes of the halftime show. Anything might be decided on during the 4th quarter. By some point in the late 60's they were being played together. I don't know if there is any way of actually determining that, as post-game repertoire was probably not noted anywhere."

BTW, MMB is heard in the background playing Temptation and War Chant on The Waterboy (Adam Sandler movie) which is being shown on FX this Sunday p.m. at 9:00.

The tradition appears to be an evolutionary thing -- although some might point to intelligent design!   


July 16th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

There's a wonderful story in Brandstatter's book about Carl filling in for one play for Howard in 1975.  (It's a great story and well worth looking up if you're in the bookstore.)  By my lights, Carl's The Man, and a great guy to boot.  However, I can't count the number of times my heart thrilled to hear Howard announce the attendance and thank us for "being part of the largest crowd watching a football game anywhere in America."  I do miss him. 


July 14th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^

In the early 1950's the MMB percussion section went ballistic into the most amzing performances and a number of legendary routines (precision marches like the "St Louis Blues March", dance steps and concert formations) highlighted them.  At the risk of making you wonder whether I have blue-brillo-pad hair, I'll disclose that my former band director, Jack Bittle, was a part of the section.  George Cavender arrived in the early 50's and took over the MMB while Wm Revelli directed the Symphony band.  It was sometime around the mid 50's that Jerry Bilik joined the University staff.

Anyway it seems that "Temptation" was arranged by Jerry Bilik in 1957 and immediately became the post-game favorite that it is today.   The piece itself dates back to 1933 and, if you're having trouble sleeping, listen to the insipid Perry Como rendition.  I think that's why Bilik chose it as it has long rythmic passages with not much going on - perfect for adding percussion and syncopation.

I second the recommendation of finding "Touchdown USA".  It is filled with the best arrangements of the Big 10 and other fight songs (ND maybe?).  These are often the versions you hear on the radio and television.

Bando Calrissian

July 15th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

"George Cavender arrived in the early 50's and took over the MMB while Wm Revelli directed the Symphony band."

Not necessarily true.  Dr. Revelli was the director of the MMB until the end of the 1970 season.  Mr. Cavender was his assistant from the 50's until that time, and while he had an important role in the band, WDR was THE guy until the end. 

Cavender was an MMB alum, and more than that, was a Marine veteran who survived the Bataan Death March.  A lot of older MMB alums would tell you that the latter fact would adequately explain the Band Week experience post-Revelli.  :)

M Fanfare

July 14th, 2010 at 4:02 PM ^

Temptation and Hawiian War Chant (referred to be the band as "T & W") were both halftime songs arranged by Jerry Bilik (excellent post on him by the way) performed during the Revelli era that stuck and became MMB classics. In addition to hearing the full versions of each song during the homecoming halftime show, the MMB plays them each home game during their postgame show and will usually run through each one during their Saturday morning rehearsal (have to get up early to see that, though). The postgame show features the full version of The Victors as well as the Yellow and Blue.

As a side note, I found out recently that the MMB was the first band to ever perform a post-game concert--Don Canham asked the band to perform after the game so a few thousand people would stay in the stadium and thus ease the flow of outgoing traffic. Now, it is hard to find a college band that doesn't perform a postgame concert of some form.