'Great Times' for the Badger Band and Badger fans in L.A.


It took nearly a year (and a second-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance for the Wisconsin football team) but the wait was certainly worth it for the UW Marching Band -- and the fans that crowded the street outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 1.

Michael Jurkovac, a UW alumnus who is the founder and CEO of New York-based production company cYclops, originally reached out to the Badger Band and spirit squad over a year ago, when the Badgers were poised to make the first of back-to-back trips to Pasadena.

His connections resulted in a New Year's Eve show for the band and spirit squad at L.A. Live, the multi-billion dollar entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles.

This time around, Jurkovac collaborated with spirit squad director Josette Scheer and assistant band director Dr. Justin Stolarik to pull off something even bigger.

Jurkovac developed a soft spot for the UW Marching Band when taking a class by Dr. Michael Leckrone during his time in Madison and again reached out to the group when the Badgers won the Big Ten championship game to secure a second-straight appearance in the Rose Bowl.

Among Jurkovac's clients is will.i.am, one of the voices of the Grammy award-winning group The Black Eyed Peas, who happened to be interested in having the UW band perform a version of his yet-to-be-released single "Great Times."

With the artist's blessing, Leckrone got to work on a special arrangement of the track, which the band spent nearly three weeks practicing before arriving in L.A.

That's when the surprise came. 

As the band went through a final rehearsal for its latest L.A. Live performance, will.i.am dropped in to pay an unexpected visit to the parking lot adjacent to the J.W. Marriott hotel.

The even bigger surprise came when he took the stage just outside the Staples Center to provide matching vocals to the band's performance of "Great Times" -- something he had not planned to do originally.

It doesn't stop there for the band, however, as will.i.am plans to make use of a recording of the band's take on "Great Times" when the single is released in the coming months.

If one surprise wasn't enough, Jurkovac also helped line up another star for the Badgers' show at L.A. Live. He enlisted Everlast, who fronted House of Pain when the group recorded "Jump Around" in 1992, to perform his signature hit -- and a Camp Randall favorite -- with the band.

Check out video of the L.A. Live performance (above), as well as will.i.am's visit to the band's rehersal (below).

ON WISCONSIN