On Monday, July 22, 2009, our beloved Edwin Hampton “Hamp” founder of the renowned St. Augustine Marching 100 passed away at age 81. Mr. Hamp is so revered in this city that, all three major television stations did a tribute to him once the news of his passing was announced. The Times-Picayune did an article regarding his legacy yesterday.
A humble man, he once stated that, he just” wanted to do something different.” In reality, he was a man with a vision, a pioneer who broke through racial barriers as St. Aug became the first black band to march in a Carnival parade in 1967. He instilled in those young men to have pride and integrity in everything and through his leadership, this high school band achieved national recognition. They have performed for various presidents, The Pope, The Rose Bowl Parade, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Super Bowl, have won countless competitions and just recently performed at The Essence Fest ’09 with a tribute to Maze (I’m sure YouTube has it out there somewhere.)
Mr. Hamp received offers from hundreds of universities(Southern Jaguars and GSU included) to join their staff as band director, but, he refused them all…he loved those young men at St. Aug. He was a father figure to those who were in single parent homes and a second father to those whose fathers were there.
When you have a man that can make kids strive for excellence and maintain that standard for 57 years, there is something extraordinary there.
Some people seek greatness, they want to be famous and receive all the recognition and accolades that go with it. Hamp was nothing like that. He just “wanted to do something different.”
Because of his true love for music and the young men that attended St. Augustine High School he achieved greatness and the respect of an entire city. His legacy will continue to live on through the young men who continue to grace the halls of St. Aug. He will be missed, never forgotten and always loved by those of us who knew him.