Leading Drummer Robert Turner 1944 – 2019

The death has been reported in New Zealand of one of the great pipe band side drummers of the 20th century, Robert Turner.

Robert was trained in the 214 Boys Brigade pipe band in Glasgow and after winning all the Juvenile titles with that band went on to take over as leading tip of the legendary Muirhead & Sons Pipe Band.

Rab, far right, with the 214 band in 1961 after winning the BB Championship for the umpteenth time

There he won five World Championships in a row 1964 – 69 plus many other awards. Seldom did he win corps titles however. Like his contemporary Alex Connell at Strathclyde Police, Robert was more concerned with his rhythmical contribution to the band than anything else.

Renowned for his complex style of drumming, viewed by many at the time as over detailed, his approach has been vindicated in the modern era where drum corps emulate his intricate and finely crafted stick work.

Rab and his Worlds winning Muirheads corps

His close association with P/M Robert Hardie and the resultant attention to musical detail took the band to a new level of march, strathspey and reel playing and was the the foundation of its success.

After the demise of Muirheads in 1978, Robert, a pattern-maker to trade, joined the British Caledonian Airways (Gatwick) band for a short period before working and teaching in the Middle East, ultimately emigrating to New Zealand.

Robert pictured in 2016

Five years ago the Robert Turner Drumming Championship was inaugurated at the Waipu Highland Games and it is now one of New Zealand’s largest solo pipe band drumming contests. 

Our condolences to Marion and family at this time. RW

  • We will add to this story as more information becomes available. If anyone would like to leave a tribute please do so below. Listen to Robert in action with Muirheads here:

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2 thoughts on “Leading Drummer Robert Turner 1944 – 2019

  1. Sad for this, and condolences to the family and friends. The Muirhead LPs were a big influence on my drumming style. Machine gun singles are tough for a corps to get and stay in the groove, and he and the two Alecs presented such a diversity in style that is lacking today. Certainly one of the greats.

  2. I am sad to hear of Robert’s passing: my condolences to his family. Robert was certainly one of the greats: I remember him from when he joined British Caledonian Airways Pipes & Drums, taking over as leading drummer after David Bruce. After Robert left the band, we had Alex Duthart join us, to take over the drum corps. We certainly had some of the best drummers with us, in those days – including Eric Ward, Tony Burns and many others.

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