History: Newspaper Reports the Amazing Success of Amazing Grace

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.

P/M Tony Crease came up with the idea of Amazing Grace

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.’

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5 thoughts on “History: Newspaper Reports the Amazing Success of Amazing Grace

  1. I would just like to let you know that having posted a request for info regarding obituaries for Tony Crease I have now found the details I was looking for. All I can say is that everything others have already iterated is true; he was a genuine friend and a gentleman. RIP my friend Tony.

  2. R.I.P Tony, I first met you in 1988 and you left a life time impression and a friendship that has lasted 32 years. You truly were “Second to None”

  3. Some time ago in the Piping Times (I can’t recall exactly when, perhaps Robert will remember, but it was over a decade ago) there was a rather an embarrassing and unseemly ruckus between Pryde and Crease and of who played re; the recording session and whose idea the whole scheme was.
    Major Crease, as he had subsequently become after gaining a commission in the Regiment, took Pryde to task and felt that he had to ‘ correct’ the record.

    The anger that these two men felt for each other showed that this controversy never healed and was a bone of contention from the start. If one looks at all the LP’s from this period and subsequent digitization on apple still gives the credit to Pryde.

  4. My first introduction to pipes was this as I was seated in the back of a ’61 Ford Galaxie on a trip to the market. I begged the old man to turn up the AM radio because I had never heard anything like it. Smitten from then on.

  5. The RSDG’s “Amazing Grace” was top of the charts for months ! I really enjoyed their 30 minute TV broadcast on BBC2, back in 1978 (I think), filmed at Castle Howard. I video-recorded the programme, and, later copied it onto a DVD.

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