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Catalog Archive / Fall 2024

Moments of Happiness
A Wisconsin Band Story
Foreword by Pat Richter

“Just as I am thinking that my fond and complicated memories of my alma mater could not be sweeter, Mike Leckrone has given us Moments of Happiness, written with decided and joyful expectation that everything’s gonna be all right. It’s the buddha in Mike that attracts me, as if the crossing of our paths was inevitable. Mike Leckrone was the soul of the UW Marching Band. My first moment of happiness with Mike was in 2004 at the opening of the Overture Center on September 18, soon followed by my second moment at the band’s concert the following afternoon. My third meeting with Mike was my first opportunity to praise graduating students on their day of commencement in 2007. Mike and his high-stepping musicians assisted my delivery of the charge to the graduates. With this memoir, I can share a moment of happiness anytime I want with Mike Leckrone. Rah-rah-rah!”
—André De Shields (’70), actor, activist, educator, and philanthropist

Mike Leckrone says it all

When Mike Leckrone retired as director of bands at the University of Wisconsin in 2019, he had served in that role for an astonishing fifty years. A brilliant showman, he became known for aerial stunts and sequined outfits. He created the Fifth Quarter celebration that follows all home football games, removed barriers for women to march in the band, and established regular appearances at Camp Randall by special-needs high school musicians. Above all, Leckrone always sought joy in life—which, along with his sixty-year love affair with his late wife, UW “band mom” Phyllis Leckrone, was perhaps the secret to his remarkable career. A consummate musician, as both a trumpeter and an arranger, Leckrone is also an outstanding raconteur—a talent beautifully on display in his long-awaited memoir.

This book is the next best thing to sitting down with this master storyteller. Coauthor Doug Moe captures the joys of performing—whether at Camp Randall, in the Kohl Center, or along the Rose Bowl Parade route. Reading Leckrone’s story, one comes to understand the mix of discipline, showmanship, work ethic, warmth, toughness, wit, and musical skill that make him a Wisconsin treasure. Even for people who know Leckrone, Moments of Happiness details the stories behind the highlights and the unglamorous work that made his accomplishments possible. It both cements his legend and offers unprecedented insights into a career that will never be equaled.


Mike Leckrone. Photo credit, Gary Smith. Mike Leckrone’s myriad civic, music, and academic recognitions include Outstanding Educator of America by the Outstanding Americans Foundation, Citation of Excellence by the National Band Association, John Bascom Professorship by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Hometown Hero Award by the Wisconsin State Assembly, and induction into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame and the Wisconsin Football Hall of Fame.

Doug Moe. Doug Moe is one of Wisconsin’s best-known journalists and nonfiction authors. A former editor of Madison Magazine, he wrote a daily newspaper column in Madison for two decades and has published more than a dozen books, including Tommy: My Journey of a Lifetime (a collaboration with Tommy G. Thompson) and The Right Thing to Do: Kit Saunders-Nordeen and the Rise of Women’s Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Wisconsin and Beyond.



“Before I arrived in Madison, I had never coached at a school where people talked about the band—where the band played a part in everything. It was strange at first, but I soon came to have great respect for Mike Leckrone and what he accomplished. I witnessed how important the band was, not just to the athletic department but to the entire university. That doesn’t come easily. This book reveals just how hard Mike asked his bands to work, as well as the fun they had along the way.”
—Barry Alvarez, legendary University of Wisconsin head football coach and director of athletics, and member of the College Football Hall of Fame

“Mike Leckrone led the Wisconsin Band and served as an ambassador for the University of Wisconsin for a half century. He is a music legend and there is no one better to help tell his story than Doug Moe, who has chronicled so much of the history of Madison and the state of Wisconsin. This is the tale of an unforgettable life.”
—Christopher McIntosh, University of Wisconsin director of athletics and member of the UW Athletic Hall of Fame

“Leckrone and Moe take their readers on a fascinating journey. Reading this book is like sitting down over several cups of coffee with Leckrone and hearing him tell stories about his life and career. I could not put it down!”
—Terry Austin, past president, American Bandmasters Association



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Table of Contents


Foreword by Pat Richter

1 Roses
2 Beginnings and Butler
3 Wisconsin
4 New Ventures
5 Giving Back
6 Football Fizzles but the Band Plays On
7 If You Want to Be a Badger
8 Momentum and Loss
9 Riding High
10 Milestones and Missteps
11 Matters of the Heart
12 Stepping Away
13 Moments of Happiness



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Moments of Happiness: Mike Leckrone, standing in front of the percussion session of the UW Madison marching band, his arms outstretched, a large smile on his face.

Larger images

September 2024
256 pp. 6 x 9
26 color illus., 26 b/w illus.

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Cloth $32.95
ISBN 9780299348809
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