seal  Purdue News

October 9, 2003

Big Bass Drum to make 'Believe It Or Not' TV appearance

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University Bands' Big Bass Drum will be in the limelight Wednesday (10/15) during the Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" television show.

In Lafayette-West Lafayette, Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" is shown on WTBS, Channel 41, at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Ripley's contacted the band department in the spring to express interest in featuring the instrument, billed as the "World's Largest Drum," in a segment on large instruments.

Purdue's Big Bass Drum, the brainchild of former marching band director Paul "Spotts" Emrick, debuted in 1921. In that era, drums were limited in size by the hides available for drumheads. An extensive, worldwide search for large hides produced the Purdue drum.

Over the years, it became more challenging to find hides to replace worn heads, so the drum was not used for periods of time. In the 1950s, after Al Wright had taken over leadership of the band, DuPont invented Mylar. Wright convinced DuPont to make sheets big enough for the drumheads, which ensured the availability of a proper-sized head.

The drum that is played by the "All-American" Marching Band at all football pregame and halftime shows is the same drum built 82 years ago. It will travel with the band to the University of Michigan for the Boilermakers' game there on Saturday, Oct. 25. The drum, along with its four-member crew, also has made six consecutive bowl appearances.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Source: Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, (765) 496-6785,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Media interested in interviews should contact Kathy Matter, Purdue Bands public relations director, at (765) 496-6785.

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