Legendary Tennessee Volunteers announcer John Ward has passed away, the school announced Wednesday evening. The iconic announcer was 87.
Ward's death was announced with a statement by Tennessee. "It is with a heavy heart that we announce a great voice has gone silent."
The Vol Network announced the news on Twitter.
Ward announced Tennessee basketball and football games for more than 30 years.
For parts of four decades, Ward was the radio liaison between the Vols and their rabid Big Orange Nation, and he captivated fans with his unmistakable crisp voice and signature calls from "Give Him Six" after a Tennessee touchdown to "Bottom" when the Vols made a big shot in basketball. His final football season behind the microphone was Tennessee's 1998 national championship season, and he retired for good following the ensuing basketball season.
Ward never missed a game in more than 350 consecutive broadcasts. Country music superstar Kenny Chesney, who grew up in East Tennessee, recorded a tribute to Ward, "Touchdown Tennessee," soon after Ward retired.
Similar to contemporaries Larry Munson at Georgia, Cawood Ledford at Kentucky and Woody Durham at North Carolina, Ward was part of an era, particularly in the South, when radio play-by-play broadcasters became woven deeply into that school's culture, especially with so few college games televised back then.
Rest in peace, John.