September 30, 2008

Bert Barr, 1936-2008

The piping and drumming world was saddened by the sudden death in Scotland of the famous and well liked snare drummer, Bert Barr, on September 24, 2008, at the age of 72 of an apparent heart attack.
Barr was born in Wishaw, Scotland, in the heart of the pipe band drumming world. He took up drumming at age 10 and played in Craigneuk Parish Church Pipe Band. He joined Shotts & Dykehead in 1953, and in 1957 was united with Alex Duthart when Duthart was made Leading-Drummer.
Bert Barr and Alex Duthart would go on to play together for more than 30 years. Barr was considered Duthart’s right-hand man until his untimely death in 1986. In addition to Shotts, Barr and Duthart were together in the Invergordon Distillery and British Caledonian Airways bands.
Bert Barr retired from competition in 1987, and by then had gained three World Solo Drumming Championships, eight World Pipe Band Championships with Shotts, 15 World Drum Corps titles, and numerous other championships.
In the last 25 years Barr was the drumming instructor at St. Thomas Episcopal School in Houston, Texas. He also committed a great deal of his time to instructing at summer schools and workshops around the world.
Known throughout the pipe band world as a kind, helpful and fun-loving man, he is survived by his wife, Eileen.
We extend our condolences to Bert Barr’s family and his many friends at this sad time.
A church service will be held at 12:15 pm on October 2nd, at Wishaw South Parish Church, Academy Street, in Wishaw. In honour of Bert Barr’s memory a composite drum corps will play part of the original Alex Duthart Fanfare outside of the church and at Daldowie Crematorium thereafter.
The salute will be led by the House of Edgar-Shotts & Dykehead drum section, and it was agreed that, because of the many of players and bands whose lives Bert Barr touched, that any drummer – regardless of their ability – wishing to take part is welcome.
Shotts’ Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick can be contacted at by e-mail for further information.


  1. It’s a really sad day. Bert was my first teacher at the Balmoral school and I still remember so many of the things he taught me and do many of the same exercises to this day. Quite the shock as he seemed very well at Winter Storm just earlier this year. He will be missed.

  2. A comsummate gentleman with always a kind word and smile. A true legend in the pipe band world. He will be sorely missed. We send our heart felt condolences and pray for God’s comfort in this time of grieving for his family and friends. Bishop family

  3. Bert was just about the kindest person that I have ever known. I simply loved the guy. A great teacher with an amazing wealth of experience and a gentle manner. His passing is yet another heavy blow to the pipe band world in a very short period of time. My family’s thoughts and prayers go out to Eileen.

  4. To hear about Bert broke my heart. Bert Barr was the man that made me pick up sticks 7 years ago and taught me near enough every week. His death will sadden many people throughout the pipe band world. Bert was one of the kindest and nicest men iv ever had the pleasure of meeting and was deeply privileged to have him as a tuitor and a friend. R.I.P Berty, u’ll be deeply missed and my prayers are with Eileen.

  5. The news of Berts death has deeply shocked my whole family. Bert taught my son at Lanarkshire and then privately. Bert was in our home almost every week and was like a breath of fresh air. My son is devastated by the news and I am sure the other children Bert taught will be feeling the same. He was so humble and never mentioned his achievements. He was only interested in the children he was bringing on. He took great pride in all of their successes no matter what band they played in. Bert will live on in every one of those children at home and abroad. God Bless Bert. We all love you. Our prayers are with Eileen. Get those angels off the harps and onto the drums. The Reid Family. x

  6. I didn’t know Bert but for the recordings and the stories that I have been told. But it is always sad hear about the death of someone and it is even sadder if the dead is a man like this. I feel so sorry for him, and send all my thoughts to his wife. Rest in peace.

  7. It is with a heavy heart that I write this. I first played with Bert in 1973 with the Shotts corps, under Alex Duthart. Bert was one of a kind and always delivered his humble and kind words of support with a huge smile. He has played a huge part in many young lives with his enthusiasm, his teaching and kindness. His memory will live on through the many cracking players he has brought up from scratch along with every person who knew him. Bert was loved by all of us and will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with his wife Eileen and his family and friends. God bless… Jim KP & Fiona

  8. I met Bert through his work at St. Thomas as a member of the band there. I’m tremendously grateful to him first for contributing so much over the years to the band’s various successes, but beyond that, for never failing to be friendly and affable around the students. Simply put, when Bert came to Houston, he brought much more than just drumming ability. He’ll be missed in a lot of ways. –Matthew Drecun

  9. This has truly been an extremely hard few days. Bert was a mentor, a teacher, a drumming guru and a true friend all rolled up in one package. I can’t find the words to tell how I feel. I know for sure I’ll never forget the smile on his face and how proud he was at this years Worlds to see and hear all of his boys playing music. I’ll miss you dearly Bert. All of my heart goes to Eileen, family and friends. Sincerely, Craig J. Colquhoun

  10. Sad day indeed. Bert was a great guy with a wealth of knowledge on pipe band drumming that he was willing to share with us all. He had played through, and contributed, to a remarkable time in pipe band drumming history. My thoughts go out to his wife and family. With deepest sympathy, Doug Stronach.

  11. It’s taken me two days to even consider trying to put my feelings down in writting. Simply put, there were 3 people in the entire drumming community I respected above all others; My brother, Jim Kilpatrick, and Bert Barr. You could not meet a nicer person in the pipe band world. I literally can not believe that he is gone. Bert was one of the people I most looked forward to seeing on my many trips to Scotland, and I was again looking forward to seeing him, (and most likely going for lunch at TGIFridays) next month at the solo drumming. He was fantastic to my brother and I from the moment we met him. Bert always had something encouraging to say, but was also totally honest, and I respected him so much for that. I am absolutely heartbroken that we won’t be able to sit and chat again. He was a great, great man, and will be missed by so many. My deepest condolences to Eileen. She is a fantastic woman, and her and Bert were great together. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the phone call from my distraught brother informing me of Bert passing, but I’ll also never forget what an amazing person he was, and how he enriched our lives. Graham Brown

  12. what can i say, i have know bert for 2 years now and what a laugh we have had with him. the story he told me .Its a very sad loss to eileen and to john cassidy and wee grant.They went every where when the pipeband comps. miss you loads bert and so will all the kids at North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe band. xxxxxxxxx

  13. As a guy who at times has something to say in these comments section, when I read Bert’s death notice here I thought commenting on this would be just too close to home. And then during the past days, thoughts of how could I not jot something down were just too overwhelming. I met Bert at my sister’s house over 20 years ago. I taught with Bert at many summer schools. I roomed with Bert at various highland games throughout the south ( me the piper for dancing and Bert the drumming judge), places like Salado Texas, Biloxi Mississippi, New Orleans Louisiana ,and Pensacola Florida. The laughs wee had… what I’ll miss most about Bert are the stories and his smile. Stories about his trip to Russia, the night he won his first World Championship, and the many, many stories about Alex…Alex and Bertino, I’m having a laugh just writing this now and then tears and sadness overwhelm me. As a competitor what better legacy can you leave than 3 solo, 8 band and 15 drum corp. World Titles. What more could you do than what he did… he went beyond that. He taught, and his teaching had a direct result in 6 “different” pipe bands winning the Juvenile World Championships. Different in as helping over 100 children win a Juvenile World Title at St. Thomas school in Houston – same band but all those World Championships had different leading drummers and different student pipe majors. My heavy heart filled condolences go out to his “flewer” Eileen, Nuggett, his niece Andrina and her husband John and his dear, dear friend and one of two of the best sister’s in the world, Di.

  14. When I first heard, I was completely shocked. Bert played such a huge role in my drumming development at St. Thomas. He believed in me from the very beginning, especially when I became lead drummer. His guidance helped me lead the drum corp (along with the band) to the 2004 Juvenile World Championship. These past couple days I’ve started remembering all of the fun times we had with him.. Always joking around and poking fun at the drummers (for encouragement of course). Those times will be remembered as some of the best in my life. I owe him so much for everything he’s done for me. I wish I could repay him… Zach Goodrick

  15. I have known Bert & eileen for many years outwith the pipe band world and have never known a more loving happy & together couple – the fact they celebrated 46 years of marriage 2 weeks ago speaks volumes.To be in their company & watch the looks that passed between them & watch them bounce of each other was a joy to watch. Bert was a modest man who was loved & respected by all his neighbours indeed by all who knew him Bert never refused to help me be it give me advice do a DIY job for me or give me a lift somewhere he also made the best tomato soup ever. I am so glad Eileen & Bert picked me as a friend – a friendship I valued & cherished and I will continue to do so with Eileen Goodnight Bert I am honoured to know you with love Rena

  16. It’s Sunday night and it still hasn’t sunk in since I got the call. Having to break the news to some of Bert’s closest friends was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Bert has forever been a friendly and much welcomed face at both Shotts and Strathclyde Police band practices. There was no greater ‘morale booster’ than watching him enjoying the corps and him telling you how much he loved what he had heard. He was always able to tell you ‘just how it was’. I looked up to Bert and always admired his qualities. I will miss him and remember him fondly. Eileen, you and your family and friends are in my thoughts at this very sad time.

  17. I was lucky enough to know Bert Barr for Seven years. He has made me who i am he has got where i am today. He taught me at the lanarkshire band in 2001 and ever since then he has taught me. He came to my house and taught me privately and he was one of the greatest teachers in the world he always told you the truth. Me, my dad and Bert went eveywhere together. We went to every solo including Kansas City and the worlds solos in Belfast 2006. Some of the storys he told you had you in stiches. A massive loss to the pipe band world. I will miss him very much. My thoughts are with his wife Eileen and hi dog Nugget. God bless.

  18. I met Bert and Eileen for the first time when I was in my late teens. Bert was such a lovely man, he passed on lots of stories about my Dad and my Uncle from the Invergordon Distillery Band days and every time I met him thereafter he always had a smile and spoke to me. That’s the way I’ll remember Bert, smiling and laughing.



Forgotten Password?