Big Bertha II, the world’s largest bass drum, will debut at the Texas-Iowa State Game


AUSTIN, Texas — Big Bertha II, a new bass drum specially designed for the Longhorn Band at the University of Texas at Austin, will make its debut at the Oct. 15 football game between Texas and Iowa State University. After 100 years of service, the original Big Bertha will make its final appearance alongside Big Bertha II before entering the Frank Denius Family University Athletics Hall of Fame in Texas. Both drums will take to the field for the first and only time during the halftime show, which will feature the Longhorn Band alongside the Longhorn Alumni Band.

Moton Crockett, then manager of the Longhorn band, introduces Big Bertha to new director Vincent DiNino.

“We’re not saying goodbye to Big Bertha, but we thought her centenary was the perfect time to honor her by transferring her to the Hall of Fame,” said Longhorn band manager Cliff Croomes. “We are thrilled to introduce Big Bertha II to our fans and have a new drum that this generation and future generations can enjoy.”

A fan favorite, Big Bertha has a storied history with the Longhorn Band, and she plays a prominent ceremonial role in home football games. Big Bertha leads the Longhorn Band on the field for football games, and she has performed during the national anthem and “The Eyes of Texas”, the university’s alma mater, and after the team has scored. Big Bertha was named after the German World War I Big Bertha howitzer due to its sound and volume.

The original Big Bertha was commissioned by the University of Chicago in 1922, and then-Longhorn Band manager Moton Crockett purchased the drum for the Longhorn Band in 1954. Crockett refurbished the drum and l ‘ presented to the Longhorn Band’s new manager, Vincent DiNino, in 1955.

During his more than 60 years at the University of Texas at Austin, Big Bertha made countless appearances at football games. She made it to the Rose Bowl, and in 2015 she was sent overseas to London as part of the Longhorn Alumni Band’s appearance in the London New Year’s Day Parade. Big Bertha appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and was the subject of the A&E show “Shipping Wars.”

The University of Chicago band performing with Big Bertha at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field, October 28, 1922.

Big Bertha II was built in Austin last year by local A&F Drum Co. The new drum will measure just over 9.5 feet in diameter and be 55 inches wide. (In contrast, the original Big Bertha was just under 8 feet in diameter and 34.5 inches wide.) The drum was made with a proprietary aluminum material, and it will be wired with an internal pickup system which will allow it to connect wirelessly to the stadium’s sound system. Big Bertha II will be the largest bass drum in the world and will play the lowest note ever played on a bass drum.

“Bertha is loud. Big Bertha II will be cacophonous,” Croomes said. “I am honored to be part of this transition as we honor our history and plan for our future.”

The purchase of Big Bertha II was made possible by the generosity of Big Bertha Centennial Campaign donors, including Dennis and Louise Griffith, Brien and Anne Smith, and Lisa Hannusch.

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