The Associated Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - William P. Foster, credited with innovating a much-imitated high-stepping style as founder and longtime director of the Florida A&M Marching 100 band, died yesterday. He was 91.
Foster died in Tallahassee, university officials said. They did not release a cause of death.
Foster served as the marching band's director from 1946 until his retirement in 1998. He created more than 200 half-time pageants for the band at the historically black university.
A 1991 article in USA Today called the Marching 100 "probably the best known college marching band in the USA," and a 1989 New York Times piece called them "perhaps the most imitated of marching bands."
"There's a psychology to running a band," Foster told The New York Times in 1989. "People want to hear the songs they hear on the radio; it gives them an immediate relationship with you. And then there's the energy. Lots of energy in playing and marching."
Instead of traditional marching band music, the band marched - and danced - to songs by James Brown.
"They illustrate American music to me, which is to say the best of black music," the parade's artistic director, Jean-Paul Goude, told The New York Times.