McCartney’s pipe band players remake history
BAGPIPERS and drummers who played on the best selling British single ever reprised their roles in Campbeltown. Paul McCartney and Denny Laine’s anthem Mull of Kintyre owes much to seven pipers and seven drummers from Kintyre’s Campbeltown Pipe Band.
Some of the surviving members met, last Saturday, at the Linda McCartney memorial garden for an informal event to mark the 40th anniversary.
LIKE MIST rolling in from the sea a group of legendary bagpipers and drummers slowly assembled for a special Campbeltown 40th anniversary.
Surrounded by Begonias, the bronze statue of Linda McCartney sat silent as the joyous anthem, Mull of Kintyre, filled Shore Street’s memorial garden last Saturday afternoon.
The surviving members of Campbeltown Pipe Band, who played on Paul McCartney and Denny Laine’s hit Mull of Kintyre, 1977’s Christmas number one, reconvened for the first time since a 1979 Glasgow Apollo gig.
Furthest travelled, from Melbourne, Australia, was also the youngest, drummer Jimmy McGeachy, 55, 14 at the time the song was recorded, in one take, at High Park Farm, in the summer of 1977.
Archie Coffield, from Newbury, flew from Southampton to join the other members who still stay in Kintyre.
Surviving members unable to attend were: Davie McIvor from Aberdeen, John McCallum from Canada, Davie Hastie from Islay, former RAF musician Des Martin and Neil McDonald.
The musicians were watched by many family members including sons, daughters and grandchildren and a couple of tourists who heard the pipes and investigated.
Many who filmed, on phones and cameras, as the band performed the song twice, admitted
to finding the occasion very emotional. Current KSPB pipe major Julie Blue watched as her father Tommy played the bass drum.
Ian Campbell said: ‘Originally the song was recorded in one take with seven pipers and seven drummers.
‘Virtually the whole band played for the video recorded on Saddell beach.’
John McGeachy added: ‘It was great at the time. I had just turned 21 and there was lots of spin offs and trips to London.’
Jimmy McGeachy emigrated to Australia in 1989, where he works in sales and keeps his hand in as a drummer in a Melbourne covers band the Fatcats.
‘Paul last played in Melbourne in 1993 and he invited me to the party afterwards. Linda was there and it was a great night. ‘He will be back there this year too in December. ‘The last time I was in Campbeltown was fourand-a-half years ago for my dad’s 80th.’
John Brown said: ‘I last saw Paul out on the street in Campbeltown eight years ago. He was in great form and pleased to be speaking with one of the band. The last time we performed Mull of Kintyre, in a concert as a band was at the Glasgow Apollo in 1979.
‘It was a two-night show and the first night they had a solo piper. On the second night we were at the front of the stage and the band called us up.’
Surprisingly, although most of the band remain in Kintyre, this was the most complete reunion since those heady 1970s’ years.
Paul McCartney was invited but was unable to attend.
The playing and non-playing surviving members who attended the reunion gather around the Linda McCartney memorial. From left they are: Ian McKerral, Tommy Blue, Ian McCallum, John McGeachy, Duncan Ramsay, Archie Coffield, Ian Campbell, Jimmy McGeachy, Peter McCallum and John Brown.
The band members, their relatives and friends.
Drummer Tommy Blue pours a glass of Prosecco for his daughter KSPB pipe major Julie Blue.
As the band played non-playing members filmed the event.
The playing members about to launch into the song were from left: Tommy Blue, Ian Campbell, Jimmy McGeachy, Ian McKerral, John McGeachy and John Brown.
Relatives and grandchildren watched before the band convened.
John McGeachy, Tommy Blue, Peter McCallum and Ian McCallum supped beer as well as sparkling wine.