DISTILLERY PIPE BAND
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OUR THANKS TO ALISTAIR MACPHERSON FOR THE FOLLOWING BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INVERGORDON DISTILLERY PIPE BAND
The Pipes and Drums of the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band
By Pipe Major Donald Shaw Ramsay, B.E.M.
The seed which was to grow into the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band first germinated in August 1963 when the Distillery Production Manager, Will MacDonald, was given the go-ahead by Managing Director F.G. Thompson, to form a Pipe Band.
Mr MacDonald, who was at that time a member of the Drum Corps of he neighbouring Dingwall British Legion Pipe Band, found no difficulty in recruiting a number of Pipers and Drummers from various Highland Pipe Bands and modelled his unit on his old Band.
The prime objective for the creation of the Distillery Pipe Band was to improve and foster the standards of Piping and Drumming in the Highlands of Scotland and to present to the world a Pipe Band worthy of acclaim.
During the formative months of he Band’s existence, no competitions were entered, but towards the close of the 1964 season the Band gained entry to The Scottish Pipe Band Association whose musical examiners placed them in Grade One.
At the turn of the year 1964-1965, Pipe Major Donald Shaw Ramsay was appointed to lead this young Band. Pipe Major Ramsay was a very experienced leader and in fact he was the youngest Pipe Major in the British Army when he was 20 years of age. Since then he has commanded the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band who under his leadership won the World Pipe Band Championship in 1950, this being their first major award since 1919. He again led his Band to win this coveted award in 1954. After a serious injury during his Police Service, he spent some years recuperating in San Francisco, United States of America. During this time he led the City of San Francisco Pipe Band to win the California Pipe Band Championship for the first time during their history.
During 1964 the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band were commanded to play before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and in 1966 were again commanded to play before Her Majesty the Queen Mother. It is interesting to note that the Pipe Major has played before most of the Royal Families of Europe. He was presented to the Danish Royal Family when he first formed the Piping Society of Copenhagen. The Danish Royal Family is keen lovers of Pipe Band Music.
The improved standard of playing was the burning desire of Pipe Major Ramsay and his first new recruit was the famous Drum Major, Alex Duthart of Shotts & Dykehead fame, a recognised authority on Drumming throughout the world.
To the Pipe Major, this was a “lifelong” ambition fulfilled, and now that the two great masters were united, what could we expect musically. It was in September 1965, only 9 months after assuming command that Pipe Major Ramsay proudly saluted the Chieftain of the Shotts Highland Gathering to receive the European Pipe Band Championship award. They also won the European Drumming Championship Trophy the same day, a feat seldom achieved. Indeed, this young Band, the youngest of Scotland’s Top Grade Bands, was placed in the prize list of every major championship during 1965.
The Chairman of he Invergordon Distillers Limited, Mr Max Rayner, recognised this great achievement by presenting a beautifully Silver Mounted Drum Major’s Mace to the stalwart Drum Major Sandy MacPherson – truly a memorable occasion for Drum Major and Pipe Band alike.
The Tartan the Pipe Band wears is the Red Gordon and in order to use this Tartan, permission had to be granted from the Marquess of Huntly. His Lordship graciously consented to this and indeed went one step further and presented a Highland Dirk to the Pipe Major with Lord Huntly’s Coat of Arms, suitably inscribed thereon.
The music the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band has recorded is exciting and varied. You can hear for the first time the classical music of the Bagpipes, the “Piobaireachd” which in Gaelic is “The Pipe Music”, and the piece chosen is “The Old Woman’s Lullaby” which is performed in harmony. Indeed this famous Pipe Major Ramsay was responsible for introducing recorded Hornpipes and Jigs to be played by Pipes and Drums, which is today taken for granted by all Pipe Bands throughout the World.
The members of the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band trust you will enjoy their first ever Pipe Band recording.
Drum Major: Sandy MacPherson
Drum Sergeant: Alex Duthart
Jock Milton (Bass)
John MacDougall (Gold Medallist)
John D Burgess (Gold Medallist)