High above the court at Staples Center, the Lakers pep band performs. The ensemble has been playing at home games since 1979, when Lakers owner Jerry Buss decided he wanted live music in the stands.
The team's pep band -- an offshoot of the USC marching band -- has been around longer than Kobe and Phil. Before, the musicians used lung power to be heard. Now they get an assist from loudspeakers.
Bassist Geo Valle has played more sold-out shows at the Forum and Staples Center than any other artist. He's performed before celebrities and politicians, and some of L.A.'s richest. Of course, most of them probably didn't even notice.
Yup, that's live music blaring from the rafters of Staples Center. The official Los Angeles Lakers pep band -- an offshoot of the USC marching band -- has been around longer than Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Longer even than Staples. Yet many fans don't even know it exists.
I'm a legend in my own mind," joked Valle, who has performed with the band for 23 1/2 seasons.
The Lakers band, composed of nine trumpets, six or seven trombones, a bass and a drum set, has been playing at home games since 1979, when USC alum and Lakers owner Jerry Buss decided he wanted live music in the stands. When the team moved from the Forum to Staples in 1999, the band moved too. Today, the performers sit above the crowd in Section 308.
Until a few years ago, they relied on old-fashioned lung power to make themselves heard. Now, microphones pipe their sounds through loudspeakers, a necessary byproduct of moving from the 400,000-square-foot Forum to the 1-million-square-foot Staples Center, said John Black, the team's vice president of public relations.