Published: 01/12/2006 00:00 - Updated: 30/11/2011 12:12

Tribute to piping legend could be a collectors item

John D Burgess
John D Burgess

AN intimate musical tribute to a piping legend is finally released this week, bringing together some of the tunes for which he will always be remembered. A CD lovingly put together to pay homage to the late John D Burgess MBE is likely to become a real collectors item, including as it does intimate, never-before-seen photographs from the family album and what is believed to be the first ever recording of the piping great. The man behind the compilation, Evanton-based Donald MacSween, described the process of putting together John D A One-Off as a privilege and said he hoped it would do more than pay tribute to the musical prowess of a piper whose talent was acknowledged on a world-wide scale. He said, There are some cracking recordings spanning over four decades of a man who will long be remembered as one of the greatest pipers of all time. As well as contributing an awful lot to piping, he also gave a lot back to the community, so hopefully this CD will show John as he is remembered by people who knew him at various stages of his life. John D has recently been poignantly immortalised in Invergordon, where he settled after his marriage in 1966, in a mural officially opened by his wife, Sheila. His family gave Mr MacSween access to family albums and archives for the compilation of the tribute which starts with a rare 50-second snatch of a 1951 recording believed to be his first recorded performance. It also features what many regard to be his signature tune, John MacColls March to Kilbowie Cottage, from 1969. Plans for the tribute started to be laid after his death in June 2005. Photographs included in a 12-page booklet with the CD show him at various stages of his life from toddler to widely-acclaimed veteran. He is pictured as a 12-year-old with Pipe Major Willie Ross at the Army School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle as a young pupil and, a few years later, being congratulated by that influential mentor on winning his second Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness. His lengthy love affair with Ross-shire began when he relocated here in 1966 after becoming involved with the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band, and marrying Alness woman, Sheila MacRae Ross. Mr MacSween revealed a further tribute, featuring contributions from other pipers touched by his talent, is also being planned. And while John D was often feted by the great and the good, piping the Queen into Invergordon during a Royal Visit in 1987, Mr MacSween said many locally remembered him best for giving up endless hours teaching youngsters and adjudicating at outdoor events. He could play on the biggest stage in the world but would also think nothing of grabbing his pipes and playing for 20 people in a village hall or tutoring youngsters, recalled Mr MacSween. Some of these half-hour lessons would extend into the afternoon and evening as everyone got carried away with the music. Thats how he will be remembered by many. John D A One-Off is available in local outlets and by post from Beracah Music, Swordale Road, Evanton, Ross-shire, IV16 9UZ for £10. Further information from

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