TROY, Ala. (WRBL)- Troy University’s legendary band director Dr. Johnny Long passed away Feb. 24 after a short illness and more than a year of declining health. He was 94.
Before his tenure at Troy University and even before receiving a high school diploma, Long directed several high school bands across Alabama, including Marshall County High School and Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State University, before earning a master’s degree from the University of Alabama. Later, Jacksonville State awarded him an honorary doctorate.
Additionally, Long served in the U.S. Army as a bandsman during World War II, serving in Iraq, Egypt, and other areas in the Middle East.
The celebrated director, composer, and musician is remembered as an icon of Troy University and band music throughout the world, and served as the director of bands at Troy until 1996.
“Dr. Johnny Long has been an icon of Troy University and band music throughout the world. His leadership, not only of the Sound of the South Marching Band and the University but also to generations of musicians, conductors and music educators across the globe, has made a significant impact in bringing our world and our cultures closer together,” said Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr. “He promoted the very best in his students, in music and in understanding of our world. His death leaves a void in leadership in many areas, and his friendship will be deeply missed.”
Long first started as Troy’s director of bands in 1965. His long, storied career at the University included performances directing the “Sound of the South” band for two presidential inaugural parades. Long also directed Troy’s marching band during two presidential visits to Alabama.
“Dr. John M. Long was the Director of Bands from 1965 – 1996. During that time, he built the band program into one of national prominence and quality. He has produced thousands of band directors and musicians who have gone on to careers throughout the United States in all areas of music and music education,” said Director of Bands Dr. Mark Walker.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. long was a former president of the American Bandmaster’s Association, was a member of the National Band Association’s Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors, and a member of the Alabama Bandmasters Hall of Fame.
Throughout this more than 30 year career with Troy University, Long taught thousands of band directors and musicians, his work at the University earned him awards and honors, including two campus buildings that bear his name.
A native of Guntersville, Long was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, Phi Delta Kappa, Kappa Kappa Psi honorary band fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha, Delta Chi fraternity and Phi Eta Sigma.
In 2010, Dr. Long was named as honorary president of the National Band Association, and in 2011, was the subject of a feature piece for CBS Evening News on his continued involvement as conductor of the Southeast Alabama Community Band.
In 2012, Long was elected Honorary Life Member of the American Bandmasters Association.
During his 31 year career at Troy, Long also served the University in various capacities, including chair of the music department, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and dean of the School of Fine Arts.
“Dr. Long loved his students, family, friends, and Troy University. His influence is evident in band directors throughout the country. He will be sorely missed and forever remembered,” said Walker.