LSU vs Clemson: Who Had The Tiger Rag First?
The last segment in this series involves one of LSU’s pep songs, the legendary Jazz tune “Tiger Rag.” This is the least popular of the three myths I’ve covered, but being it has legs, they must be severed.
Most Clemsonites with any hint of intelligence can form an educated opinion by following this simple sequence:
1. The Tiger Rag is a jazz song
2. Jazz originated in New Orleans
3. If the song made it to South Carolina, it didn’t pass by Baton Rouge unnoticed.
But we can’t always give credit where none is due. There are stragglers out there who are too lazy to find the truth and have given this absurd rumor legs. So allow me to prove they have no leg to stand on.
Many sports teams across the country ranging from high school football to professional baseball use a version of Tiger Rag as their fight song. I’m sure LSU wasn’t the first to use it, but I can guarantee you that they were one of the firstÂ few.
The Tiger Rag had a number of different names over time. Pieces of the tune were used in many different strains throughout the early history of New Orleans. The Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the popularized version of the song on August 17, 1917. (It wasn’t spelled “jazz” until later that year)
The exact date when LSU started playing the Tiger Rag is unknown, but all publications state it was before 1920. One goes back as early as 1910.Â It wasn’t until about a quarter of a century later –in 1942– that Clemson adopted the Tiger Rag as one of their school songs.
This puts the exclamation point on the rebuttal.
Most of the people that believe we took the moniker “Death Valley” from Clemson also assume we copied everything else we have in common with them. We were accused of taking their mascot and their Tiger Rag, too. I’ve actually heard this more than once, so I know it applies to at least a hand full of people. But those fabrications are not even close to being right.
I find it funny how things turn out. Clemson has managed to copy, adopt, and mimic their way into existence, all the while labeling LSU as “Imitation U.”
In the past, LSU has gone out of their way to be original.Â In 1929– thirteen years before Clemson decided to use the Tiger Rag– LSU changed their alma mater because the song was sung to a tune used by Cornell University. Students Lloyd Funchess and Harris Downey got together and developed the original song and music to “LSU Alma Mater.”
To know that the “Ole War Skule” is about as original as a school can be really makes me proud to be a Tiger fan.. There are a number of things that have been unique to LSU at one point or another. The most popular being Mike VI.
With a little research, people could find these things out on their own before making false claims. Google is literally right under their noses.. Six taps of the keyboard for the truth to pop up in front of their faces. If people took the extra 10-20 seconds to discover the truth, things wouldn’t have gotten so far out of hand with any of these tales.
I’m not just poking fun at fans.. the players, students, and all levels of faculty are just as guilty. It’s sad when the people who are interested in the truth can’t get informed answers from those who are making six and seven figure incomes at those schools. The information is out there for anyone with the initiative to get to the bottom of these rumors. It doesn’t take much time and even less effort.
When both Tiger teams take the field today, none of this will mean anything. But win or lose, it will resurface again, sooner or later. And when it does, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to put the accusations to rest.