Long time Director and Founder of the Mghty Marching Hornet Band dies


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Release Date: Jun 10, 2011

The Alabama State University family lost a legend this week, when former longtime ASU band director, Dr. Thomas E. Lyle, died.

Dr. Thomas E. Lyle, legendary director of the ASU Mighty Marching Hornets, died on Thursday, June 9, 2011.

Lyle served as director of bands at Alabama State University from 1964 to 1988. He is credited with taking the band to national performance platforms such as nationally televised halftime shows of National Football League games during the 1960s and 1970s.

Those who served under “Professor Lyle†remember him as a leader who believed in discipline.

“He was a man who had very high expectations of us as band members and as individuals,†said James Oliver, the current director of the Mighty Marching Hornets. “He never raised his voice, but he had a subtle way of letting you know what he wanted and making sure that you did it.â€

Oliver was a band member from 1975 to 1980. He said Lyle had his own style as a band director.

“He would only put 144 members on the field because that’s 12 by 12 … a perfect square. Dr. Lyle was unique,†Oliver added.

ASU Alumni Affairs director Cromwell Handy was Oliver’s roommate and fellow Marching Hornet.

“There are two words to describe Prof. Lyle … pride and discipline,†Handy said. “He instilled in us pride in our University. He also made sure that we were disciplined as band members. If you came without your instrument, you didn’t march; if you came with only one glove, you didn’t march. You had to be ready when it was time to take that field.â€

Handy said Lyle was more than a director; he also was a talented musician and writer. Handy said he wrote the downfield march and arranged the music for the University’s alma mater. Another Marching Hornet trademark instituted by Lyle is the demanding “double time†steps … 360 steps per minute.



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This man was truly a legend for Alabama State Band program. He will be missed. In case SP do not know; a lot of the MMH field traditions that you see; i.e. Drum Major entrance, Melt, downfield march/drill, opening fanfare, doubletime, etc.; were all Prof Lyle's doings. I just thought I would put this out there since nobody aint said anything in this thread; maybe folks don't know.

At any rate, to all of my MMH frat, soror, and band friends; you have my deepest condolences.



Prayers go out to the University and the band (alumni and current members). I am very fond of ASU's marching style and technique, being that i was born and raised in B'ham, Alabama. Lyles' was and is truly a pioneer in the HBCU band world. He will be greatly missed.


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Ross Clayton Funeral Home

LYLE, Dr. Thomas E., 82, a resident of Montgomery, Alabama entered into eternal rest on Thursday, June 9, 2011. He was preceded in death by his parents, the Late Eugene Britt Lyle, Sr. and Sara Estella Vance Lyle, a sister, Eloise Lyle Taylor (2009), and a brother, Eugene Lyle, Jr. (2007). He is survived by a loving & caring wife, Evelyn Lyle, Sons, Thomas E. Lyle, Jr. (Dessie), Huntsville, AL, Britt K. Lyle, Windermere, FL, Brian L. Lyle, Montgomery, AL and Kelvin J. Burton, Montgomery. Daughters, April B. Thomas, Marietta, GA and Courtney D. Burton, Montgomery, Alabama. Grandchildren, Jai E. Lyle, Atlanta, GA, Britt K. Lyle, Tallahassee, FL, Ryan B. Lyle, Albuquerque, NM, Koi & Sequoya Lyle, Huntsville, AL, Keldric Burton, Montgomery, AL. Mother & Father-in-Law, James & Mary Burton, Montgomery, AL, Sisters-in-Law, Dorothy L. Lyle, Los Angeles, CA, Doris (Carl) Cooley, Montgomery, AL, Marilyn (Lucious) Wells, Pontiac, MI, Edith (Charles) Gregory, Anniston, AL, Brothers-in-Law, James (Lelia), Eldred (Lizzie) and Henry Burton, Montgomery, AL, Leroy Burton, Pontiac, MI. Nieces, Dr. Deborah T. Horn & Sylvia T. Richardson, Birmingham, AL, Nephews, Larry E. and Donald E. Taylor, Birmingham, AL. Special friend, Emerson Able, Memphis, TN. The family will receive friends on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at Fresh Anointing House of Worship, 4870 Woodley Road, Montgomery, AL. An 11:00 a.m. memorial service will be held on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at Fresh Anointing House of Worship - Main Campus, 150 E. Fleming Road, Montgomery, AL 36105. Burial will follow in Greenwood Cemetery with Ross Clayton Funeral Home directing. Dr. Lyle's career was a strong reflection of his love of music. He served as Director of Bands at Alabama State University for over 30 years, he was the Leader of the Montgomery Jazz Orchestra, he was a former member of the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra, and he served as Director of Bands at Stillman College, where the music building bears his name. Dr. Lyle was a compassionate man with a wonderful sense of humor, and an infectious smile. He will be greatly missed. The body will lie in state one hour prior to funeral services.


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yeah he gave a lot to the band program and University to include The current fightsong fight fanfare team fanfare and the arr of the alma mater thats still played. He also designed the uniforms that the band has.

Dr. Lyle is also the former Assistant band director of Florida a&m and spent a few years at Stillman after leaving ASU.

He's a High School graduate of Parker High School in Birmingham. Has a Bachelors from Tn State and Masters and Doctorate from The University of Michigan An Arbor


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I'll be there at the wake and funeral. Part of this article was in the Amsterdam News in New York----

During his time at Alabama State, Lyle joined in the effort with other directors to bring Black college marching bands to the national audience during the Civil Rights Movement by having the Marching Hornets perform halftime shows on televised NFL games.

Under Lyle's leadership during his early years at Alabama State, the Marching Hornets performed at a football game between the New York Giants and the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967 televised on NBC and in 1969 at a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers on CBS. He would continue to showcase the Marching Hornets at NFL games into the 1970s.

Lyle is also credited with sharpening performance style and structure of Black college marching bands. The Marching Hornets' trademark "double time" step, which has an entire football field of band members swiftly marching 360 steps per minute collectively, was perfected by Lyle.
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