George Edwards, who transformed the Prairie View A&M University marching band into a world-renowned music machine and as well as a close-knit family, died Thursday from injuries sustained in a car accident last month. He was 60.
“Everybody is still in shock,” Christopher Knight, a former member of the Prairie View University Marching Storm and current teacher at M.C. Williams Middle School in Houston, told The Houston Chronicle. “You always suspected Prof would grow old in the position.”
The Marching Storm, known for its tight drum line and Black Foxes dance troupe, performed around the world, including the inaugural parade for former President George W. Bush in 2001 and the Tournament of Roses parade in January. The band was also known throughout the Lone Star State for its legendary on-field battles with another powerful marching band, Texas Southern University’s Ocean of Soul, a highlight of the Labor Day Classic football game between the two historically Black universities.
“We’re archrivals,” Ocean of Soul Director Richard F. Lee told the Chronicle. “George was an excellent competitor, and just a good person … We were friends off the field.” But, he continued, “Any time you have two bands at Black college football games …, it is a competition from the time you march into the stadium until you leave.”
Edwards, who was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and his master’s from Michigan State University. He arrived at Prairie View in 1978, and found a small band known as the Funky 50. Five years later, he had recast it as the Marching Storm.
Funeral arrangements are pending, according to the Chronicle.