CM_UIN*E*R*D_55b96fb13c04555b96fb13c0ee started his music career in the school marching band.

The 'Get Lucky' hit-maker - now one of the world's most in-demand producers - started out as a uniformed drummer in The Fabulous Marching Cavaliers, a marching band in his hometown in Virginia, US.

Alan Sharps, the band director at Pharrell's old school, told The Sun newspaper: ''Pharrell was incredibly talented and loved to play the drums.

''He dabbled in the rap stuff but he was eclectic in his music taste - and he brought a lot of energy to the marching band.

''He'd come and sit in the stands and go through a routine that he'd thought up for the band.

''I'd make him go away and tell him to put it down on paper.

''He since said that this preparation helped him later in his career.''

Alan was a key influence on the young Pharrell and they stayed in touch for years after he graduated.

Pharrell, 40, has also given back to Alan, inviting him and his family to be his private guests at a concert in Austin, Texas, in 2009.

As Pharrell took to the stage with Jay Z, he shouted to rhythm section in front of the 10,000-strong crowd: ''My drum teacher's in the crowd tonight so you'd better play good.''

Alan was honoured by the tribute.

He said: ''That was an amazing moment for me because as a teacher you have those days when you wonder if you're getting through to your kids - and here was this young man remembering the good relationship we'd built up.''