AUSTIN, Texas — Big Bertha II, a new bass drum custom-built for the Longhorn Band at The University of Texas at Austin, debuted at the Oct. 15 football game between Texas and Iowa State University. After 100 years of service, the original Big Bertha made her final appearance alongside Big Bertha II before entering the Frank Denius Family University of Texas Athletics Hall of Fame. Both drums were on the field for the first and only time during the halftime show, which featured the Longhorn Band alongside the Longhorn Alumni Band.
“We’re not saying goodbye to Big Bertha, but we felt like her centennial was the perfect time to honor her by moving her to the Hall of Fame,” said Longhorn Band Director Cliff Croomes. “We’re excited to introduce Big Bertha II to our fans and to have a new drum that this generation and future generations will be able to 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 onto the field for football games, and she’s played during the national anthem and “The Eyes of Texas,” the university’s alma mater, and after the team scores. Big Bertha was named after the World War I-era German Big Bertha howitzer because of her sound and volume.
The original Big Bertha was commissioned by the University of Chicago in 1922, and then-Longhorn Band Director Moton Crockett purchased the drum for the Longhorn Band in 1954. Crockett refurbished the drum and presented it to incoming Longhorn Band Director Vincent DiNino in 1955.
In her more than 60 years at The University of Texas at Austin, Big Bertha has made countless appearances at football games. She traveled to the Rose Bowl, and in 2015, she was shipped overseas to London as part of the Longhorn Alumni Band appearance in the London New Year’s Day Parade. Big Bertha has appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and was the subject of the A&E show “Shipping Wars.”
Big Bertha II was built in Austin this past year by local business A&F Drum Co. The new drum will measure just over 9.5 feet in diameter and will be 55 inches wide. (By contrast, the original Big Bertha is 8 feet in diameter and 41 inches wide.) The drum was manufactured with a proprietary material with aluminum, and it will be wired with an internal mic system that will allow it to wirelessly connect to the stadium sound system. Big Bertha II will be the largest bass drum in the world and will play the lowest note ever on a bass drum.
“Bertha is loud. Big Bertha II will be cacophonous,” Croomes said. “I’m honored to be a 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 donors to the Big Bertha Centennial Campaign, including Dennis and Louise Griffith, Brien and Anne Smith, and Lisa Hannusch.