The “Pride of Permian High School”, the Mojo Band was founded by the legendary J.R. McEntyre. A rich tradition of excellence has been built and maintained by thousands of student musicians of PHS.
McEntyre began as Bonham Jr High’s first band director. Permian opened its doors in 1959 and the incredible tradition of the band had begun. McEntyre continued his leadership of the “Mighty Mojo Band” until the end of 1972. He would pass the baton to orchestra director Charles Nail. A graduate of West Texas State University, Nail would serve as orchestra and band director for 17 years. Under his guideance, Permian won the Texas State Marching Band contest in 1982, finished second three other times, and was selected five times for the finals competition. The Permian Band was never awarded less than a superior rating in every contest and festival they entered during this time.
Waiting in the wing stood Van Bob Ragsdale, band director at Hood Jr High at the time. In his inaugural year at Permian, Ragsdale directed the Mojo musicians to 18 performances at the football games. Under his leadership, the band placed in the State Marching Contest, a feat it would repeat three consecutive years. A graduate of Eastern New Mexico University, Ragsdale served seven years as PHS band director before being hired as Director of Fine Arts for the Arlington ISD.
Mike Watts would follow and serve as director. The Mojo Band would perform to an international audience under Watts, including appearances at the Tournament of Roses Parade (Pasadena, California), St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Dublin, Ireland), and a performance at Pearl Harbor (Honolulu, Hawaii). Watts retired in 2013. Jeff Whitaker became the fifth director in the history of the school in the same year and is in his fifth year at Permian. The band has earned the UIL Sweepstakes Award each year he has been the director. In addition, the Permian band has grown into 4 concert bands, all of which received division one ratings for the concert performances the past two years.
Special thanks to Manny Hernandez for recording and sharing the Hawaii 5-0 video.
Posted by Odessa Permian Sports on Friday, November 13, 2015
Visit their website at permianband.org