After 50 years as the school song, Central’s marching band has ceased playing “Huckleberry Hound”; the school is attempting to acquire proper licensing rights.
Homecoming will sound a lot different this year now that the marching band has suspended its playing of “Huckleberry Hound” over concerns about copyright infringement.
“Huckleberry Hound,” has been a school-wide tradition for more than 50 years, typically played around 60 times a year at basketball and football games, pep rallies, and marching band competitions. Recently, however, the song was abruptly removed from the band’s music selection when school leaders realized they did not have any licensing rights to play it.
The concern over licensing has arisen from the South Dakota State High School Activities Association’s (SDHSAA) stricter enforcement of guidelines on copyrights and licensing. The process of licensing is a necessary one according to Darren Paulson, the activities director: “We want to make sure we have the proper licensing in place, on all our music.” If Central chose to ignore any copyrights for the Huckleberry Hound song and the SDHSAA discovered it was copyrighted, the school would be fined a hefty amount.
The music department is putting efforts into gaining licensing so they are able to play “Huckleberry Hound” again. The application has already been sent and they are waiting for approval. If the application is processed and accepted, Central will be quoted an amount and will need to find the funding to buy the license.
As the long process of licensing continues, many individuals are left wondering if the Huckleberry Hound song, formally from the 1958 animated series The Huckleberry Hound Show, is now considered public domain since the show has been off the air for over 50 years. If it is in the public domain, Central wouldn’t need a copyright license to play it. Principal Michael Talley stated, “We need to find out if the song was first copyrighted and find out a lot of history.”
As the Cobblers set things into motion to get the song back, the news of “Huckleberry Hound” has begun to upset many students, like Jessica Wimp, a senior at Central High School and a member of the band. “I am livid,” she said. “I’m sad because it’s kind of cute and different from other school songs and it’s something I’ve played since freshman year. Now I don’t play it anymore.”
Editor’s Note: The original version of this story called “Huckleberry Hound” the school song. Andrew Belsaas, band teacher and former student at Central High School, has clarified the role of the two songs: “Huckleberry Hound has never been CHS’s school song. ‘Let’s Go Rapid City’ has been- and will continue to be our school song. Huckleberry Hound was only played as an introduction to our official school song.”
Photo by Enrique Mandas
Annie Ducheneaux, Holly Allen, Tannah Scovel, Samantha Seljeskog, and Alex Hoffmann contributed to this story.