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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Purdue’s famous drum too big for Irish’s stadium

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7:04 PM ET

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    Dave WilsonESPN Staff Writer

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      Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.

The World’s Largest Drum is officially too big for Notre Dame Stadium, Purdue said Friday.

As a result, Purdue’s All-American Band will play its first halftime performance without its giant bass drum for the first time since 1979.

“According to a communication from the University of Notre Dame, our Band will not be permitted to take the World’s Largest Drum through their tunnel and onto the football field for this Saturday’s game,” said Aaron Yoder, a spokesman for the university’s bands and orchestras. “Notre Dame Athletics has restricted use of their main tunnel to their own football team and band, which is the only entrance large enough for the Drum. We have been told that visiting teams and bands have to use a separate tunnel that is much smaller. Our Drum is about 10 feet tall on its carriage and 565 pounds so it doesn’t even come close to fitting in this other tunnel.”

Purdue has used the drum in previous games at Notre Dame Stadium; the rule restricting access to the main tunnel was implemented only recently.

The World’s Largest Drum, which was first built in 1921, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The last time the band was without it was in 1979, when it went missing from storage the night before Purdue played Northwestern. It was later found behind an air conditioner in an area accessible only by ladder, which led to speculation that it had been stolen and moved.

According to Purdue, in the days of train travel, band director Paul Spotts Emrick, who had the drum built, worked with the New York Central Railway to find train cars that could house it. It now usually travels in the back of a pickup truck.

University history says “the exact measurements of Purdue’s drum have been kept secret to preserve the mystique surrounding it.”

Texas, which has a similarly large bass drum named “Big Bertha” (8 feet tall) that was originally created around the same time for the University of Chicago after being inspired by a Purdue band performance there, had a long-running rivalry with Purdue about who has the biggest drum in the world. Meanwhile, Missouri’s “Big Mo,” which debuted in 2011, is 9 feet tall.

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