MassMu to Exhibit Paul Brown and the Massillon Tiger Swing Band

The new exhibit in the Massillon Museum’s second floor football gallery will be Paul Brown and the Massillon Tiger Swing Band.

The public will first be able to see the exhibit on Saturday, August 20. In addition to being on view during regular Museum hours Tuesday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., the second-floor gallery will remain open until 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24, the evening of the Tiger Kick-Off Pep Rally in Duncan Plaza.

Majorettes, Drum Major, Tubas, circa 1941

All Massillon Tiger Swing Band directors will be included, but the exhibit will highlight three of the early greats: George “Red” Bird, Orin “Dykae” Ford, and Jim Billingsley. Objects on display will include photographs, original composition books, band uniforms, majorette costumes, and footage of Tiger Swing Band performances through the years.

This exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the Massillon Museum and the Massillon Tiger Football Booster Club, with the assistance of Bob Wenzel and Bill Joseph.

While Paul Brown was building the “Greatest Team” in Massillon High School Football, he was also instrumental, alongside Superintendent L.J. Smith, in hiring George “Red” Bird in 1938, the man who would form the Massillon Tiger Swing Band, part of the “Greatest Show in High School Football.” Although the band had existed for twenty-five years prior to the Swing Band, Bird transformed the halftime performance into a theatrical show. Drawing from vaudeville, burlesque, and Hollywood, with influence from the “swing” music of the 1930s, Bird established a choreography of measured steps, an assembly of instruments, the majorettes, and a collection of uniforms. The halftime show as we know it today was born in Massillon under the direction of Bird.

George “Red” Bird

Bird (1938–1945), along with Orin “Dykae” Ford (1946–1967) and Jim Billingsley (1970–1980), constitute three of the most influential early directors of the Massillon Tiger Swing Band. From its inception in 1938, the Swing Band has been led by ten men and women, and the legacy of Bird, including his opening ceremony of favorite musical compositions “Entrance Fanfare,” “Tiger Rag,” and “Carry on for Massillon,” are still celebrated today.

The new Paul Brown exhibition is the fifth in a multiple-year series focusing on one of Massillon’s most famous and influential sons. It is hosted in the Massillon Tiger Football Gallery in Memory of Paul L. David on the Massillon Museum’s second floor.

Visitors to the second-floor galleries will be able to view Echo: The Early History of Sound Recording and The Immel Circus. The main gallery exhibition, Readapt: Artwork Inspired by the Permanent Collection, will continue through September 25, and the Studio M exhibition of Photography by Supporters of Relay for Life will continue through September 4.

The Massillon Museum receives operating support from the Ohio Arts Council and ArtsinStark.

The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent streets and in nearby city lots. A visit to the Massillon Museum is always free. For more information, call 330.833.4061 or visit

Photos from the Massillon Museum Permanent Collection