Jimmy Anderson 1946-2024

Muirhead & Sons, Perth Worlds, 1969. Jimmy is third from the left back row

Jimmy Anderson, who has died aged 77, was a World Pipe Band Championship winning piper with Muirhead and Sons and the man who half a century ago led the introduction of bagpipes into folk groups.

His successes at the Worlds came in the legendary Muirheads band of the 1960s, and he was the proud owner of three plaques commemorating wins in 1967, ’68 and ’69. With brothers Peter and Tommy, he formed a unique Worlds-winning family triumvirate.

However it is as the ‘father of the folk group piper’ that Jimmy Anderson will be equally well remembered. His attendances at Falkirk Folk Club in the 1960s sparked his interest in the folk scene and he started to learn guitar. Visiting festivals he met up with the Glasgow-based traditional group, the Clutha. They had already pioneered the use of two fiddles in their line up and were keen to innovate further.

Jimmy, far left, and The Clutha

Jimmy was asked along to gigs to play Highland pipes but then hit on the idea of using miniature pipes to add to the fiddles, guitar and concertina and the outstanding vocals of Gordeanna McCulloch.

We should remember that until then pipes were a separate tradition never seen anywhere near folk groups. But that world sat up and took notice when, at the Kinross Festival in 1974, the Clutha won the ceilidh band competition with Jimmy in the line up.

Before long other groups started to followed suit. Today there is hardly a Scottish traditional band which does not have a piper in its line-up be it on smallpipes, lowland pipes or Highland pipes.

Jimmy began piping with Hugh Wilson in the Camelon Pipe Band and then moved to Jimmy Inglis at Wallacestone. Encouraged by their parents, both Jimmy and his older brother Tommy started to show great talent, as did Peter on the drums. Jimmy joined P/M Alex Kiddie in the BP Grangemouth band before all three brothers joined Muirheads under P/M RG Hardie.

Jimmy’s playing was characterised by excellence of technique and refined musical expression. He handled Hardie’s strict insistence on both with ease. But more than that, Jimmy was a terrific bandsmen, encouraging his colleagues and impressing them with his earthy humour.

Muirheads in the USSR… P/M RG Hardie, and pipers Gordon Ferguson and Jimmy Anderson get a local welcome at Riga in Latvia

Everyone was a friend of Jimmy Anderson’s. Band tours of Canada, the USSR and Europe left a trail of stories still oft recounted.

When the band folded in 1978 Jimmy spent a year back at Wallacestone before accepting a job teaching the Omani Police. He did two tours in the Middle East and enjoyed the change in culture and lifestyle.

Jimmy far left with Muirheads in Brittany in 1976

When he returned home he built a workshop at the rear of his house and started a successful business making smallpipes. No request was too much for Jimmy, and he would spend hours with visitors chatting about piping and sorting reeds.

Pipe bands and the traditional music scene in Scotland will remember Jimmy, a lover of piping and a lover of people. Sincere condolences to Tommy, Peter and sister Margaret, to Jimmy’s children Lyndsay, Ailsa, Niall and Donald, and to the wider family.

RW

  • If anyone would like to leave a memory of Jimmy or a condolence, please do so in our comment section.

14 thoughts on “Jimmy Anderson 1946-2024

  1. Very sad, Jimmy taught me advanced piping in the RAF from 75-77 at RAF Leuchars. He was an amazing piper! I am so sorry to hear this news and so amazed at his background I had no idea. He sold me his Henderson bagpipes in 1976 after winning the RAF piping championships. He was a great teacher and the his pipes have always sounded exceptional. He never lost his temper with me and I NEVER Appreciated him… sorry. Now I know how well connected he was and why I played for so many amazing events. thank you big Jimmy.

  2. What a great tribute to Jimmy he was world class came to the piping every August in Glasgow and we would always bump into him as I now live in Glasgow.

  3. What a great tribute to Jimmy. Well worded accolade. I sold some smallpipes on Jimmy’s behalf. Like Tom Johnstone I enjoyed playing with the Clutha. Erland Voy was the main man, singing Tatties and Herrin’ etc. Tom, myself and Jimmy played at the Clutha’s 5Oth Anniversary concert in the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, possibly 15 yrs ago. Best wishes to family. Jim.

  4. I think that everyone should know about David Bruce’s comments,the man himself is a legend playing as a leading tip both with Glasgow Skye Association and with British Caledonian Airways if he says,as a drummer,what a good player Jimmy Anderson was then the man is a legend!

  5. Lovely to hear so many kind tributes and caring thoughts from so many lovely friends.
    It is indeed a sad time for myself, Lindsay, Ailsa, Niall, Donald and the extended family.
    Details of the funeral will be published on Jimmy’s Facebook as soon as we know.
    Thank you all for your words. Jimmy would be so delighted to know about them.
    It is absolutely true that Jimmy never had the credit he should have had for bringing piping to the folk world. It is good that he is recognised here by those truly in the know.

  6. A great tribute to the man and his little credited role in piping and traditional music, but more important his friendship. RIP Jimmy and condolences to Clan Anderson

  7. What sad news . A great person, fun , talented and a good friend of the Jakubowski family at Avonbridge. Jimmy actually courted ma wee sister Anna rip . A lovely, lovely guy. When I commenced piping at the age of 60 years he encouraged me and said don’t give up. Mostly enjoy the piping. Rest in peace laddie. A great pal of my wee brother John and Joe the banjo. All up in grand folk folk club in heaven.

  8. Thank you, Robert, for a well-deserved tribute to Jimmy Anderson. I remember him and the whole Anderson family from my days with Muirheads and would like to pass on my condolences.
    It was always great to catch up with Jimmy when home for the Worlds and I can recall reminiscing with him and Dougie Elmslie at his flat in Polmont and listening to the amazing story of his teaching days in Oman when he had the whole pipe band playing while mounted on camels!
    RIP Jimmy, you will be sadly missed.

  9. The Anderson brothers have been the staying force with local Falkirk bands over the years and Jimmy also in the folk scene .The piping world is a sadder place on Jimmy’s passing

  10. This is tremendously sad news. Jimmy Anderson was a genuine pioneer who doesn’t get a fraction of the credit he deserves for his role in bringing the piping and folk traditions together. Every piper who has played in a folk group in the last half century owes a debt of gratitude to Jimmy Anderson, whether they’ve heard of him or not.

  11. So sorry to hear Jimmy has passed away. My thoughts are with Jimmy’s family and friends and his brothers Tommy and Peter. Had some great times playing in the Muirheads drum corps alongside Peter. Jimmy was a very likeable guy and good company. I’m sure he will get the send of he deserves. RIP, Jimmy. God bless .

  12. Very sorry to hear this, met Jimmy a few times in the Argyll area, always friendly and happy to chat piping! Last time was in the Whistlefields on Loch Eck side along with his pal James Cameron Stewart (The Barlinnie Highlander!)

  13. That is a great tribute to Jimmy! I knew him well when we played in Muirheads together then, later, in 1977, I took over from him when he retired from the Clutha Folk Group. I bought a set of small pipes from him which I played in the group.
    Jimmy and his two brothers,Tam and Peter were and are a remarkable family!

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