Grammy Award-winner Lee Greenwood, the artist behind the hit song “God Bless the U.S.A.,” made a surprise appearance at Military Appreciation Day on Saturday, November 18, to perform his signature piece with the Clemson University Tiger Band.

Lee Greenwood with Mark Spede

Grammy Award-winner poses with Director of Bands Dr. Mark Spede. Greenwood performed with Tiger Band at halftime during Military Appreciation Day on Saturday, November 18.
Image Credit: Christopher Sloan, Imagine Studios

The appearance had been in the works throughout the fall, when a group of IPTAY donors arranged for Director of Bands Dr. Mark Spede to speak with Greenwood about the appearance. The singer had appeared with Tiger Band before in the 1980s, so Spede headed to the band library to find the marching band arrangement of the famous song.

After speaking with Greenwood, the two decided a new arrangement was needed, so Spede offered to create the new one. Using the instrumental accompaniment track from the original tune to create the Tiger Band version, the new arrangement debuted Saturday. Greenwood loved it so much that he will use this version in future engagements. In fact, Greenwood was so impressed by Spede’s Tiger Band arrangements that the two plan to collaborate more in the future.

The surprise appearance was only announced in the first half of the game, as Greenwood’s flight to Greenville was scheduled to land late in the morning, and his timely arrival in Tiger Town was not completely assured.

Fortunately for Tiger Band, and for the thousands of fans clad in purple, all went as planned.