He returned to Scotland in 1989 to become Leading-Drummer of Polkemmet under Pipe-Major David Barnes. One of the first Grade 1 bands to compete with more than 18 pipers, Polkemmet won the Scottish and European championships and finished second at the World’s in 1991.
James King, the former Leading-Drummer of the two-time World Pipe Band Champion and World Pipe Band Drumming Champion Dysart & Dundonald, died on March 2, 2014, after a lengthy illness.
A product of the Ballingry School system in Fife, Scotland, Jim King grew up with the Dysart & Dundonald organization, rising through the ranks as quickly as any band in history, to take the band to Grade 1 status with Pipe-Major Robert Shepherd to become one of the world’s greatest, culminating with World Championship titles in 1977 and ’78. King led his corps to Word Pipe Band Drumming Championships in 1976, ’77 and ’80.
At Dysart, King was instrumental in developing a unique style of playing and ensemble that became part of that band’s distinct sound that relied heavily on clarity and consistency of chanter tone in the pipe section at a higher pitch complemented by the snares. In the snare ranks with Jim King was Reid Maxwell, who would eventually take his King-inspired talent and style to Canada as Leading-drummer of the 78th Fraser Highlanders and, currently, Simon Fraser University.
In 1985 Jim King left Dysart & Dundonald after falling out with Shepherd, and joined the Grade 1 Polkemmet Colliery Pipe Band as a member of Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick’s snare line, where he remained until 1986. In 1986 he spent one year in Kansas City playing with the Kansas City St. Andrew Pipe Band.
King joined the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl Pipe Band as Leading-Drummer in 1993, where he worked with Pipe-Major Ian Duncan to produce a consistent prize-winner at major championships, before retiring from competition in 2002 when he was replaced by Ian Tobin.
Jim King was a giant of pipe band drumming, and made an indelible mark on the history of the art.
The funeral will be at 1:30 pm on Monday, March 10, at Kirkaldy Crematorium, Kirkaldy, Scotland.
On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we extend our sympathies to Jim King’s family and friends at this sad time.