January 31, 2010

George M. Bell, 1926-2010 (updated)

We regret to report the passing on January 16, 2010, of George M. Bell, one of the most important piping figures in the North America, at age 83, after several years of intermittent illness.

Originally from Glasgow, Bell started with pipe bands as a drummer in the local Boys’ Brigade band, but then progressed to the pipes, studying with Robert Hardie and Donald MacLeod. He immigrated to the United States, settling in New Jersey where he started the Kenmure Pipe Band in 1953. The band went on to win nine Eastern United States Championships in Grade 1.

He was an active and successful competitor in the United States for many years, and served with the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, which he was directly involved in starting in 1964. He worked in various capacities with the EUSPBA, including Chairman of its Judges’ Committee. He worked to establish and implement the assocaitaion’s judging accreditation program.

George Bell was perhaps best known for his teaching, and leaves behind a long list of accomplished pipers, including his sons, Jimmy and Duncan, and Derek Midgley and Bobby Durning, two rising stars on the solo scene. His other two sons, Gordon and Donald are prominent pipe band drummers.

The Metro Cup piping competitions, held annually in New Jersey, instituted the Pipe-Major George M. Bell Amateur Championship several years ago in tribute to his impact on the eastern U.S. piping and drumming scene.

The viewing will be on Thursday, January 21, 2-4 pm 7-9 pm at Rezem Funeral Home, 457 Cranbury Road, East Brunswick, New Jersey. The funeral will be on Friday, January 22, in South Amboy, New Jersey.

Our condolences go to George Bell’s family and many friends at this sad time.


  1. I was judging this past weekend with Jimmy and Gordon in Olrando. As the news came in the rest of the group looked at each other and with total sadness began to talk about the greatness of Uncle George. Not only has he left a legacy that is untouchable but he has help shape the minds and ways of many people. He will be remembered by me as a huge inspiration, a great leader and a very close friend to our family. As Jim M touched on, George who would call my dad and say only a few words Hi Roddy

  2. My memories of George Bell go back to when I was a very wee piper. George and my dad, Colin, would be competing against each other in the open competitions. If a ceilidh happened after the games, as it often did, you could count on George and Colin contributing a few tunes, and what wonderful sounds ensued. They sure inspired me. If no ceilidh, then usually a discussion. How do you play this tune? ;or

  3. Piping and Pipe Band progression in the Eastern United States and the United States for that matter would not be where it is today without the teaching, dedication, and commitment that Gearge gave on a continual basis throughout his life. My condolences to the entire Bell family Jimmy,Gordon,Donald ,and Duncan and their families and to all of George’s pupils past and present.

  4. I too remember those phone calls. They were George’s way of staying in touch. He was very loyal. If you were his friend it was for life and the phone calls were just a reminder. He will be sorely missed by many.

  5. I only met George once, a couple of years ago, but it was a terrific experience that I will always remember. Sort of a scary, but fun lesson prior to a competition in Schenectady. If he had done naught else for piping, he produced the Bell Boys, and a greater bunch of guys I do not know. But, he DID do more, and all of us involved in piping in the US owe him a debt of gratitude.



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