The death has been announced of P/M Tony Crease, the man who, almost 50 years ago, led the Pipes & Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to the top of the hit parade with Amazing Grace. Tony is pictured above with the Gold Disc he received when his band’s recording hit the No.1 spot.
Tony passed away peacefully at his home in Yorkshire yesterday, 4th January 2021, after an illness. He was 73. He leaves behind his wife Sophie.
Tony took over the Pipe Majorship of the band from P/M Jimmy Pryde following the amalgamation of the Royal Scots Greys and 3rd Carabiniers in 1971, to form The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, and served as Pipe Major from 1972-1978.
It was his idea to have the pipes and drums and the RSDG military band record the tune and he approached the bandmaster to ask if he could make a suitable arrangement that would accommodate the pipes.
The track was to be included in an album of military music to mark the amalgamtion of the two regiments. It was subsequently chosen as the main publicity track.
This led to surprise airplays on the radio which led to an astonshing response from the record buying public. At one time it was out-selling its nearest rival by 10,000 copies per day and ended up with Tony leading the Pipes & Drums to stardom in 1972 with the chart topping tune.
In doing so he exposed bagpipe music to the wider public and in a direction that paved the way for many others groups and bands to follow. The success put the RSDG regiment on the map and in Army cicles it is believed helped to ease the pain of amalgamation of the Greys and the Caribiniers.
After his stint as Pipe Major Tony went on to serve the Regiment in many key appointments including as the Regimental Sergeant Major and latterly Quartermaster.
In recent years he worked looking after the training estate at Catterick Garrison in Yorkshire which included Foxglove Covert Local Nature Reserve, winning many accolades for his work.
Foxglove, on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, flourishes as a nature reserve today. The reserve was created in 1992 by Tony and the RSDG who had just returned from the First Gulf War.
Here is the record of Amazing Grace played by the RSDG with Tony Crease playing the solo:
Pipe Major Ben J. Duncan, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Pipes & Drums, said of his predecessor: ‘Tony was an influential man who laid down the foundations of a tremendous band, which would go on to achieve great things.
‘He toured the world with the band taking pipe band music and the Army’s pipes and drums to a wider audience than ever before achieved.’
Early last year PP ran a story telling of the incredible success of the record. Read it here.