Billy Rip Reagan

Born: Dec. 22, 1929 Gadsden, AL

Marching Band Conductor, Educator

Source: Alabama Music Hall of


Emma Sansom High School (opened 1929 - closed 2006) was a high school located in Gadsden, Alabama. It was named for a young girl (Emma Sansom) who was credited with helping General Nathan Bedford Forrest to cross Black Creek in Gadsden, Alabama and get his troops ahead of the Union troops thus stopping the impending attack upon Rome, Georgia during the Civil War.

Emma Sansom High School distinguished itself as a school of champions and was the primary reason that the city government adopted the slogan "The City of Champions" for the city of Gadsden. The outstanding band, under the direction of Billy "Rip" Reagan, his son Steve Reagan, Boyd McKeown, Pat Morrow, Russ Waits and others (all former ESHS band members themselves) played for many events such as the Mardi Gras, New Orleans Saints football games as well as performing at the Viking football games, and events at the Talladega Superspeedway race track and many other national events. Known as the "Greatest Band In Dixie" while under the leadership of Billy "Rip" Reagan. Additionally, the school had quite a history of sports achievement. In January 2004 the cheerleading squad won Jamfest's National Championship Cheer Competition, under the coaching of Mandy Tinsley and Mrs. Daughtery. Making Emma Sansom the first High School Cheer squad in Etowah county to ever win a National Championship.

Emma Sansom High School was closed in 2006 when the Gadsden City Government decided to close all of the city high schools and create an All City High School now known as the Gadsden City High School. Emma Sansom High School was converted into Emma Sansom Middle School beginning with the 2006/2007 academic year. General Forrest Middle School was moved to Emma Sansom High School and renamed Emma Sansom Middle School. Emma Sansom's band glory still lives on today. Emma Sansom Middle School (ESMS) Band is directed by Stacy Harris. The advanced band has over 100 members, made up of 7th and 8th graders. Drum Majors for 2010-2011 were Kaylee Lindsey, and Tory Beck. Future drum majors for 2011-2012 will be Jacob Dowdy and Draven Jackson. The school has beginning, advanced, and stage band classes. The marching band is the biggest middle school band in the Etowah County area. Often times, much larger than area high school bands. The Gadsden City High school Band has taken on the glory as well, with a band of 260, GCHS band is one of the most well known in the state. The school offers many clubs and organizations, such as: Student Government, Quiz Bowl, Choral, Art, and many more. The school also offers A.P classes, such as Pre-Algebra. The school remains to this day an important part in the Gadsden City School system.

Source: Emma Sansom High School - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



The first band, under the direction of Mr. C. F. Elton, was organized in the fall of 1949 with 45 members.  The band did not present a regular half-time show that fall, but they did march at the homecoming game.  After much hard work and progress throughout the year, the band presented the first annual spring concert on April 25, 1950.  At that time Mr. Elton awarded band letters to 13 members.

Through the years many Crossville students have benefited from their participation in this outstanding band.  The CHS band has continued to grow and develop into a program with a reputation for excellence.  This has been due, in great part, to the leadership of many fine directors.  These directors and the drum majors who assisted them, listed by year, are:


1949-50 C. F. Elton (no drum major)

1950-51 Billy "Rip" Reagan Eunice Clower

1951-52 Dewey Countryman Tavie Gorham

Source: Crossville Alabama Web Site.


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