Almost fifty years ago an Army pipe major approached his regimental music director and asked him to make an arrangement for a spiritual hymn that went well on the pipes. The Pipe Major was Tony Crease, the tune was Amazing Grace and The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards were about to take the popular music world by storm. P/M Crease and members of the Pipes & Drums and RSDG Military band are pictured above. The following is from a report in the Daily Express newspaper of the time.....
The march of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to No1 in the Top Twenty is only step from success. Their chart-bursting pipes and drums version of Amazing Grace stands at No 2 this morning – poised for the pop sensation of the 70s.
And in West Germany, where the band is planning a military ‘rave up’ to celebrate, it was revealed yesterday that a top secret follow-up record is planned for the summer. Said Band President Major Charles Ramsay: ‘We’re giving nothing away but we are working on one or two plans.’
Amazing Grace is outselling the current No 1, Without You by Nilsson, by 10,000 copies a day – though retailers’ returns to the chart makers are not up to date. But pop experts are predicting a certain takeover by Friday.
The amazing success story has delighted regimental ‘brass’ in Germany and at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh. There Captain Melville Jamieson said: ‘Everyone is waiting for the band to make the top. It is a wonderful thing for us.’
But amid the celebrations yesterday, the man behind behind the idea, Scots record producer Pete Kerr, revealed that the record might never have been made.
‘I had to persuade RCA to let me do it because they didn’t think it had much potential, he said. I had recorded The Royal Scots Greys on two LPs and when the news of the amalgamation with the Wesh Carabiniers came through, the Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Blacklock, asked if it would be possible to do a record featuring both bands playing some of the music associated with both regiments.’
It was the single track (Amazing Grace) taken from the LP, which sparked off the ‘who played the solo’ mystery’. When it was made the band was under Pipe Major Jim Pryde, now retired, whose name appears on the sleeve.
But the idea to play Amazing Grace came from his successor P/M Tony Crease. And although P/M Pryde was playing with the band, the solo was by P/M Crease.
In Germany Major Ramsay said: ‘Everyone gets credit for the success of the record. We are aware that P/M Pryde has appeared on television, but he is due his share of the credit. Just now we are planning a big party for the bandsmen and their friends.’
One of the band’s top fans is BBC disc jockey Alan Freeman. He said: ‘I don’t see it as the pop sound of the 70s but this record is the greatest.’