COLUMBIA — For the past 30 years the Big MO drum has been the thunderous pulse behind thousands of roaring fans at MU football home games. The drum’s enigmatic history turned it into a game day tradition and the aural terror of Faurot Field’s south end zone.
But the decades of distracting opposing quarterbacks have taken a physical toll on the 6-foot, 150-pound bass drum. Duct-taped and limping around on a damaged cart, Big MO’s days are numbered, and it's time for a replacement.
The drum’s caretakers, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, are giving fans the chance to “bang” the legendary instrument in exchange for a $1 donation toward the new drum. The old Big MO will stand outside Memorial Stadium's front gate from noon until 3 p.m. Saturday during MU’s Black and Gold spring football game.
The new Big MO will measure 9 feet in diameter and 54 inches wide and will cost an estimated $55,000. It took more than four years to track down someone physically capable of building the behemoth, which stands 11 feet tall when on its rolling cart.
“All the drum companies we talked to said ‘there’s no way we can do it,’” Big MO Crew member, John Schetley, said. “We were told that several times.”
Kappa Kappa Psi President Will Bryan found Neil Boumpani, a custom drum maker, through a Google search last December and offered him the project. He instantly accepted.
Boumpani, who runs Boumpani Music Company in Barnesville, Ga., “takes on jobs that others do not believe are possible,” according to his website.
"I like the challenge," Boumpani said. "This drum's going to be one-of-a-kind and every part's being made specifically for it."
The new Big MO will overtake Texas’ “Big Bertha” and Purdue’s “Monster” as the largest collegiate marching bass drum. It will take six people to operate as opposed to the old two-member crew.
“It’ll also be a whole heck of a lot louder than the current Big MO,” Bryan said. “Hopefully it’ll rile everything up more than it already is and make Faurot Field one of the nation’s hardest places to play.”
The new Big MO will make its debut on Oct. 15 during the 2011 Homecoming game against Iowa State.