For the better part of five decades, Tony DiPardo breathed life into Arrowhead and Municipal Stadium. Dipardo, better known to Chiefs a fan as “Mr. Music,” represented all that was right about Sunday’s in Kansas City. His unwavering enthusiasm and unconditional love for the hometown Chiefs helped DiPardo become an iconic part of franchise history.
On Thursday morning, the Chiefs said goodbye to the leader of Kansas City’s infamous TD Pack Band. DiPardo had been hospitalized since suffering a brain aneurysm on December 16th. He was 98 years old.
“Mr. Music” developed a personal connection with nearly everyone he came into contact with. He was originally called on by Chiefs Founder Lamar Hunt to lead the Chiefs in-game pep band in 1963 and was a fixture on Sundays for over 40 seasons. The red trumpet-toting band leader had such a profound impact on the club’s gameday pageantry that Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram personally awarded Dipardo with a Super Bowl IV ring.
DiPardo’s personal connection often times traveled much farther than the front office, the stands, or even the sidelines. Touched by his trademark “thumbs-up enthusiasm,” many players made it a point to celebrate home scores with DiPardo. Former WR Dante Hall developed a close relationship with DiPardo during the first his record-setting return seasons in 2002. Their friendship continued once Dante’s playing days had ended in Kansas City.
Here’s how DiPardo remembered the beginning states of he and Hall’s relationship, according to his book Life, Love, Music and Football…
On December 8, 2002, the Chiefs were playing St. Louis. It was a big rivalry game and everyone was talking about how the Rams were the best team in the state. Well, they weren’t the best team in the state on that day. And my good friend Dante Hall played one of the biggest roles in the Chiefs 49-10 victory.
I didn’t even know Dante before the game. I’d read about him and watched him play the previous season, but I didn’t know him.
Anyone who has ever been to a Chiefs game, with little doubt, knows that I get very excited when the Chiefs score a touchdown or make a big play. But on this particular cold December afternoon, the old man got so excited that my toes tingled and the tears just ran down my face.
It was because Dante returned a kickoff 86 yards for a score. I was sitting in my director’s chair with a Chiefs blanket over my legs just watching the play when all of a sudden, Dante broke free, he crossed the end zone and ran right up to me and handed me the ball. I was so shocked. I couldn’t believe it!
Dante was giving the ball to me! I’d seen players spike the ball, slam it like a basketball over the goal post, toss it to some fans or hand it to an official, but never had I personally been on the receiving end of getting a football after a touchdown. I didn’t’ know what to say or do. I was speechless.
I just stood there and looked up in the stands and all the fans were cheering. Of course they were cheering for Dante. But then, they began cheering for the old man, and I just felt so happy and excited. It was a feeling that started in my heart and went through my body like a rocket. I showed the ball to my daughter, Patti, and we were hugging, and the guys in the band were giving me high fives and I just couldn’t stop thinking about Dante. Why on earth would someone like Dante Hall even think of an old guy like Tony Dipardo?
I soon found out that Dante Hall knew more about me than I did about him.
To Tony, the Chiefs say, “thank you” for bringing life and joy to the organization and fan base for so many years.
“Like all Chiefs fans, our thoughts and prayers are with Doddie, Patti, Tony Jr., Jimmy and the entire DiPardo family at this difficult time,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said, “Tony’s passion, commitment and dedication to the Chiefs brought joy and excitement to every fan that heard his music at Arrowhead Stadium. He is a treasured part of Chiefs history, and he will be dearly missed.”
Tony is survived by Doddie, Tony Jr., Jimmy, Patti and the entire DiPardo family. DiPardo's daughter, Patti DiPardo-Livergood, led the TD Pack Band in its last 20 seasons and has performed the National Anthem at Arrowhead over 40 times. DiPardo-Livergood continues to remain an integral part of planning gameday entertainment at Arrowhead.