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The Rolling Stones and University Songs: Will Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and NC State Get Tributes?

by Ryan Book   May 31, 2015 15:47 PM EDT

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McCartney and Starr Reunite at the Grammys

The Rolling Stones made every Ohio State Buckeye fan go nuts (pun intended) when the band performed "Hang On Sloopy" at Ohio Stadium in Columbus last night. The band, probably the biggest touring act in the world aside from Paul McCartney, has a host of huge venues hosting it throughout the "Zip Codes" tour. Several of these, like Ohio Stadium, also play host to NCAA football programs throughout the year, so Music Times decided to check out what the official songs of those programs are, just in case the Stones might think about busting them out during forthcoming live performances.

"Hail! Minnesota"

The Stones are taking a number of days off following the band's Columbus show, but when it gets back on the road, they'll be heading to another Big-10 school. TCF Bank Stadium, which spends most of its time as the host to the University of Minnesota Gophers football program, is housed in Minneapolis, the biggest city in the land of 1,000 lakes. Although the state might outnumber Ohio in terms of bodies of water, it does have less official state songs. Ohio hosts both an official song and an official rock song (the role "Hang On Sloopy" fills), yet Minnesota and the University of Minnesota share the same official song, and it ain't a rocker. The state legislature acknowledged the tune, written by Truman Richard during 1904, as the official song of the state during 1945...a tad before the dawn of rock 'n' roll. It seems unlikely that Mick Jagger will sing these obvious praises directed at the University.

"Ramblin' Wreck From Georgia Tech"

Ohio State had somewhat of an unfair advantage when it hosted the Rolling Stones, as "Hang On Sloopy" was a pop smash before it became the official song of the state/school. Georgia Tech (which plays at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta) didn't adopt a mainstream hit as its official song, but it didn't mess around with something as formal as "Hail! Minnesota" when drafting a theme song during 1908. Ignoring the more gentlemanly aspects of the university experience, Billy Walthall adapted Scottish drinking standard "Son of A Gambolier" to the school. Frankly, the title of the song makes it an ideal subject for the Rolling Stones. The band began its career playing blues covers, and few concepts are as well-covered within the blues genre than "rambling." As Keith Richards could tell you, much of the band's career has involved being a "wreck." We're sure they can do something with this.

"Tennessee State University Fight Song"

Some smaller, or at least less athletically-inclined universities, are fortunate enough to exist in the shadow of massive arenas that they can hardly utilize. However, in an attempt to bring in more revenue when the local NFL franchise is out of town, these buildings allow schools to host their home games there as well. Such is the case for Georgia State University and the massive Georgia Dome in Atlanta, and such is the case for Tennessee State University in Nashville. The Tigers football program plays at LP Field-the home of the Tennessee Titans and a 70,000-capacity venue-despite its undergraduate attendance being roughly 10 percent of what the stadium can hold. So, unfortunately, Tigers fans won't hear its fight song that night. If only it were the home stadium for the University of Tennessee, which has famously adopted the Osborne Brothers' "Rocky Top" as its theme. The good news is that the Stones will definitely reach into Nashville's deep music history for something.

"Hail To Pitt"

Few realize that Heinz Field is more than just the home stadium for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also the venue that hosts football games for the NCAA's University of Pittsburgh Panthers. Although "Hail To Pitt" might not come across as the kind of song that the Rolling Stones are willing to play in concert, it should get kudos from lesser rock bands for being among the most indie fight songs in the United States. How so? Lester M. Taylor composed the song for performance by the school's musical theatre club and soon became popular among both students and fans in the Pittsburgh area. This became a problem for the school during the '30s, when local radio stations would play the song frequently, as the school didn't own the copyright. The university tried to reverse the trend by formally releasing its own "Victory Song." That never caught on however, and "Hail To Pitt" has remained the fight song for the school.

"The Red and White Song"

The band will head to Raleigh, NC in July to perform at Carter-Finley Stadium, the home of North Carolina State University's Wolfpack football team. Once again, we've got a fight song that, although not official to the university, features almost nothing but lyrical references to the college's in-state rivals, such as Wake Forest, UNC and Duke. So it seems unlikely that the Rolling Stones will try to tackle this one. That said, fans of the Wolfpack might still be in luck. The headliners will be rotating openers throughout the entire tour, and the Raleigh show will feature an appearance from the Avett Brothers, natives of North Carolina. We can't say what university in the region the folk stars put their support behind, but they might be willing to play some fanfare for the hometown crowd.

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