The Big Band Behind "Tusk"

The USC Trojan Marching Band in 2008
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Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Well, of course it was Fleetwood Mac behind the title track to their 1979 album, the hotly-anticipated follow-up to Rumours. But they had help.

On June 4, 1979, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, another band gathered to provide back-up to the jittery tune: the University of Southern California's Trojan Marching Band. The Spirit of Troy assembled at Mick Fleetwood's request - the drummer felt their larger-than-life sound would augment the already-out-there track that at one point saw him tapping out drum patterns on a tissue box.

READ MORE: October 1979: Fleetwood Mac Release 'Tusk'

Fleetwood later explained the origins of the track in a 1995 interview:

In soundchecks we used to jam on that riff, and I did the riff in drum form. When it came time to make the album, we pulled that riff out, screwed around with it, put it in the dustbin, and then a year into making that album, I pulled it out again and took it with me as a rough track to Normandy and came up with the idea of using the brass band on it, and using about 100 drummers on it, which we did.

That really worked. It's a glorious noise, and it's something I'm proud of because it's all drums. There's really no lyrics to it.

So I resurrected that, much to everyone's amazement, and I insisted on recording the USC marching band at Dodger Stadium. By this time they'd thought for sure I'm round the twist, and I said, "Well, I'm going to pay for it. And we're going to film it." They thought, "For sure, he's blown it. He's way off the deep end."

Indeed, the "Tusk" music video featured the USC band's recording session, plus appearances from nearly everyone in the band (minus John McVie, represented as a cardboard cut-out). While Fleetwood Mac never took the band on the road to replicate their appearance on the studio version of the track, they did reunite for a live performance as captured on the bestselling video and album The Dance.

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