Longhorn Band retires Big Bertha after 100 years, unveils Big Bertha II


Assad Malik

The Texas Longhorn Band reveals their new bass drum Big Bertha ll during the UT vs. Iowa State game on Oct. 15, 2022.

Aaron Sullivan, General News Reporter

The Longhorn Band unveiled Big Bertha II, a replacement for the band’s iconic 8-foot diameter drum, on her predecessor’s 100th birthday at UT’s football game against Iowa State on Oct. 15.

A University press release states Big Bertha will retire to the Frank Denius Family University of Texas Athletics Hall of Fame. Ramy Antoun, founder and president of A&F Drum Co., said Big Bertha’s longevity can be attributed to her locally sourced materials and handmade construction. 

“That’s why it lasted 100 years,” Antoun said. “We returned to making drums by hand, using locally sourced materials, the best materials we can get all by drummers and artisans here in Austin.” 

A&F Drum Co. is a local business that serviced Big Bertha in her final years and built Big Bertha II over the last year. According to the press release, Big Bertha was commissioned by the University of Chicago in 1922, and in 1954, Longhorn Band director Moton Crockett bought the drum and presented it to the band the following year. 

“Big Bertha has a storied history with the Longhorn Band,” the press release states. “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.”

Antoun said he was asked to service Big Bertha after a friend approached him in 2017. His friend said he knew a Longhorn Band director and the band was having problems with Big Bertha.

“I went with a couple of my guys and then we recognized that there were some issues and so we started to service Bertha,” Antoun said. “I (thought) it might be time to think about retiring Bertha.”

Any changes between the new and original Big Bertha designs were areas where “there was room for growth,” Antoun said. According to the press release, the new drum has a 9.5-foot diameter and is made from proprietary aluminum.

“The new drum is able to spin completely so that it can lay flat, which is really nice,” said Holden Logan, Big Bertha head section leader. “The drum itself is bigger. It’s a bit more fine-tuned. It’s a bit more sturdy.”

The press release mentions other features of Bertha II, including a wireless microphone system that connects with the stadium sound system.

“Everyone knows the importance that Bertha has to, not only to the band, but also all UT fans,” said Logan, a radio-television-film senior. “It’s meant a lot to all these people, and I hope this new drum can make some great memories as well.”