Ian McLean, 1936-2011
Ian MacLean, ex-bass drummer of Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band, passed away on June 20, 2011, at Stirling Royal Infirmary after a long illness. He was 75.
Born on April 5, 1936, Ian joined the Boghall organization in 1977 after playing with the BP Grangemouth Pipe Band under Pipe-Major Colin Drummond and quickly established a reputation for delivering an improved quality of sound from the bass drum.
In those early days, Ian formed the experienced backbone of that young Boghall band alongside Pipe-Major Bob Martin and Leading-Drummer Tom Brown. During that time, Ian pioneered many of the techniques used in today’s bass sections, manufacturing his own sticks and developing new ways to dampen the drum, bringing a rich bass drum sound to the band that had never been heard before.
Recalling a conversation with Ian, Tom Brown said, “I asked Ian one time how he knew when his drum was in tune. Ian replied that he could tell by the vibrations on his chest. It was becoming apparent that he was a bit special when one day I discovered he had cut up sheepskin rugs to put in the drum, just to get the sound he was looking for.”
The success of the band during those early years in Grade 1 was mirrored by Ian’s achievements, winning the first World Championship prize for best bass in 1980, the first of his three titles. Ian also took great pride in his contribution to some memorable and pioneering drum fanfares with the young Boghall corps that were traditionally performed by the defending grade drumming champions as part of the march-past ceremonies at the World Pipe Band Championships in the early 1980s.
He played with the band until his retirement in 1995, handing over his sticks to Darren Owenson, who remains Boghall’s bass drummer. Ian did come out of retirement, briefly at the British Pipe Band Championship at Banbridge, Northern Ireland, in 2001 to cover for Darren, which was a real joy for the band and Ian alike and spoke volumes for his commitment to the cause.
Ian was well known for his energetic and friendly personality. In addition his generosity was always reflected in the ability to share his knowledge with anyone who asked. He was instrumental in teaching all the Boghall bass drummers who followed in his footsteps over the years. In remembering him, Darren Owenson remarked, “Ian was a real character, full of fun and loved his bass like he loved his wife Agnes.”
Ian’s memory will live on in the band and with everyone who met him and heard him play. It will also live on through the famous Boghall hornpipe that was named in his honour and his role in the mining industry.
There was only ever one “Big Road Brusher” and the pipe band world is just that little bit less colourful for his passing.
Ian’s funeral will take place on June 27th, at 10:30 am at Carriden Church, Bo’ness, Scotland, and then at 11:30 at Falkirk Crematorium in Camelon.
– contributed by Pipe-Major Ross Walker, Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band