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'On Wisconsin,' state's official song, is 100 years old

"On Wisconsin," the state's official song, turns 100 years old this week. Tomorrow, the University of Wisconsin-Madison band will perform the song at a birthday party at the campus union, complete with cake.

Then on Friday, the UW concert choir will perform a version written by doctoral composition student Jerry Hui.

"On Wisconsin" was written by Carl Beck and W.T. Purdy in the parlor of a boarding house in Chicago.

The earliest known performance was on Nov. 10, 1909, by the campus glee club. Two days later, Purdy performed it at a pep rally before a Badger-Minnesota football game.

He sold the copyright in 1918 for less than $100. It became Wisconsin's official state song in 1959.

In recent years, there were reports that Paul McCartney owned the rights to "On Wisconsin," and sold them to the late Michael Jackson.

But it was later determined that the song is in the public domain.

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