“On, Wisconsin!” was first introduced as UW’s football fight song in 1909.

“On, Wisconsin!”

The most famous tune in Wisconsin’s history almost belonged to another school. When William Purdy first penned the notes that became “On, Wisconsin!” he was thinking of his own alma mater: the University of Minnesota, which was, in 1909, holding a contest to find a new fight song. Purdy’s friend and song-writing partner, lyricist Carl Beck, had attended the UW, and he convinced Purdy to withdraw his entry and submit it to Wisconsin instead. The UW adopted “On, Wisconsin!” as its fight song, and in 1959, the state legislature named it the official state song. The tune is so popular that the UW’s Department of Athletics estimates that some 2,500 other schools have adapted it for their own use. But Minnesota isn’t one of them. It chose “Minnesota Rouser” as its fight song. Tough luck, Gophers.

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Badger Pride Wall art is by Nate Koehler