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Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

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.. Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

Post by wee_fee-Fee on Wed 26 Mar - 18:17:13

Ronald Lawrie, one of the 20th century's greatest solo and band pipers, died on March 26, 2008, in his home town of Oban, Scotland, in his eighty-first year. He had been in declining health for some time.

Affectionately known in the piping scene as "Big Ronnie," the 6' 7" Lawrie was the son of the famous piper Angus Lawrie. Young Ronnie started on the pipes at the age of seven, originally taught by Pipe-Major Willie Ross of the Scots Guards when Ross would visit Oban. Ronnie Lawrie went on to receive instruction from the Blind Piper, Archie MacNeill, and Robert Reid, who set him up for a great solo career.

In 1961 Ronnie Lawrie won the Highland Society of London's Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering playing "The MacDougalls' Gathering." He also gained, among many other big prizes, the March at Oban in 1953, the Argyllshire Gathering Former Winners MSR in 1957 and 1960.

When Ronnie Lawrie moved to Glasgow his massive stature made him a natural to join the police. He became a member of the Glasgow Police and of course played in the band under Pipe-Major John MacDonald, whom he succeeded in 1967.

During Ronnie Lawrie's six years as Pipe-Major of the band, he won most of the major championships, and placed as high as second at the World Pipe Band Championships until he was succeeded by Iain MacLellan.

After his competitive days, Ronnie Lawrie committed himself to teaching and judging, and was a common sight behind the bench of the world's most prestigious solo events. He frequently traveled to North America to conduct summer schools and adjudicate, and his last trip was in 2000 to judge the Piobaireachd Society (Canada) Gold Medal competitions and the North American Championships in Maxville, Ontario.

In 1987 he surprised the piping world by coming out of competitive retirement to take over the Grade 1 Polkemmet Grorud Pipe Band after the departure of Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson. Although Lawrie led the band for only a year, he maintained its Grade 1 standard, winning several prizes during the season, setting up for his successor, Davey Barnes.

Known for an uncannily dry and quick wit, Ronnie Lawrie was loved by all who knew him. He was one of the piping world's most celebrated characters and players and he will be missed.

Our condolences go out to Ronnie Lawrie's family and friends at this sad time.


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wee_fee-Fee
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Registration date : 2007-10-15
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.. Re: Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

Post by True_Blue_Piper on Thu 27 Mar - 3:43:21

He was a good friend of my father, so much so, that my father named me after him.
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.. Re: Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

Post by Dai Robb on Thu 27 Mar - 15:28:39

I did not know that Ron? now you do surprise me, what an honour and a priviledge for you.
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.. Re: Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

Post by wee_fee-Fee on Thu 3 Apr - 19:17:55

To describe the life and achievements of Ronnie Lawrie in a few lines is an impossible task. Born on the 21 July, 1927 in Tweedale Street, Oban, into a local piping family and in a street where in nearly every close there lived a piper, it was inevitable that Big Ronnie would become a piper.
Ronnie's first lessons were from his father Angus, Pipe Major of the Oban Pipe Band, and also Willie Ross when he conducted workshops in Oban.


Upon leaving school Ronnie worked for a while in Livingstone's garage before moving to Glasgow where he joined the City of Glasgow Police and also the Glasgow Police Pipe Band under Pipe Major John MacDonald from whom he also received instruction. He was also taught by Archie MacNeil and Pipe Major Robert Reid.
His competitive record is too long to go into but his proudest moment was winning the Argyllshire Gathering Gold Medal in 1961 in his home town, playing the MacDougall's Gathering - a tune he had only put in as a last minute change.

He also took over the City of Glasgow Police Pipe Band in 1967 and in 6 years in charge led it to many championships including the band's first ever champion of champions title. Unfortunately ill health forced him to retire prematurely and he handed over the reins to Ian McLellan in 1972.
He later became a respected judge. Upon returning to Oban he also played 5 nights a week in McTavish's Kitchens for almost 30 years and was frequently asked by tourists if he was indeed Mr McTavish himself!

He later became the piping instructor for the schools in Oban.

Lessons with Ronnie were strictly informal and would often last up to four hours (half of which was playing, the other half spent listening to his wonderful stories), and no matter what time or day or night you would arrive at his house, Ronnie would be in his big armchair with at least one set of pipes on his knee. "Try this set of drones for me, I want to see where they are tuning". or "I've got this new chanter I want you to try". He was a master at setting up pipes and no matter how well you thought your pipes were going, Ronnie could always get them going that wee bit better.

He had a great sense of humour and at competitions he could always settle your nerves with a joke or two.
Piping was a huge part of Ronnie's life and it took him all over the world. Whether it was judging in San Francisco or leading his beloved Glasgow Police Pipe Band out of a giant football at the world cup!
We will all miss Ronnie and the piping world has lost one of it's greatest characters but he will never be forgotten and everyone has a "Big Ronnie" story.

I send our condolences to Ronnie's wife Ann and his 3 daughters, Kathleen, Morag and Christine at this time.
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wee_fee-Fee
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Registration date : 2007-10-15
Number of posts : 630
Age : 32

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Band Name: Boghall & Bathgate Pipe Band

http://www.boghallandbathgate.com

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.. Re: Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

Post by Redneck on Thu 3 Apr - 20:43:26

Nothing can be said that has not already been said about this giant of piping.
Sometimes words just cannot do justice to someone of the big man's stature, sadly I never had the honour to have met him, meet him I did but not on a scale to have been able to say I know him.
Ronnie did have an aura around him, but not of aloofness more of a calming nature, and someone willing to listen and help.

The word greatness is used all to often nowadays, Ronnie was one of these greats.

R.I.P big man.
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.. Re: Ronnie Lawrie 1927 - 2008

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