Columbia Blue Lions

C. Ogden Beresford C. Odgen Beresford, from the Columbia Spectator, April 29, 1942.

C. Ogden Beresford (Columbia College Class of 1943), known to his friends as Oggie, donated to the University Archives a copy of his memoir, The Blue Sea Lion, and a CD with the music of the Blue Lions. This orchestra, started in the 1920s by Harwood Simmons (CC 1925) had at one point up to 50 musicians who performed at campus dances at Columbia and in the Ivy League circuit. Some of its former members would go on to play in the "nation's leading bands." The CD contains audio recorded in 1940-1941 and features both the band's theme song and the popular hits of the day.

Beresford was the third trumpet chair in the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, playing next to second chair Merle Severy (CC 1942). According to Beresford, Severy was a "damned genius" who made the arrangements for the Columbia Marching Band and the Columbia Blue Lions, the campus "big swing band." Severy invited Beresford to join the Blue Lions, where he met a "serious and great musician named Sid Caesar from Julliard." (p.25) Caesar played the saxophone in the band.

The Blue Lions were "top quality. We could swing until the foundations swayed in rhythm, or our ballads would keep the kids in a swoon long after the music stopped." Beresford had one tape that "scratchy but oh, how the magic pours out. It was magic time." (p. 26)  Below are selections from this collection. Beresford is right: It is magic.

To learn more about the Blue Lions orchestra and their many performances at campus dances and events, look for them in the student newspaper, the Columbia Spectator.

For more Columbia-related digitized audio and video materials, please visit our Media page.

Blue Lions Theme Song

'Nuf Said

Three Little Words

More Than You Know

Tea For Two

Hear A Rhapsody

I'm Counting So Much on You


Stars Fell On Alabama

Way Down Upon the Swanee River

Medley: I Love You Truly and In Old Monterey

Blue Lions Columbian 1942 Left: Merle Severy and his Blue Lions. Right: Merle Severy "toots it out while merrymakers make merry." Columbian 1942, page 169.