Jim Hutton

Published: November 30, 2000
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There are few people alive today in the pipe band world who have been part of so many great pipe bands as Jim Hutton. Over his 50 years of competing at the Grade 1 level, not only did he play with and against the great Alex Duthart, but he worked with legendary pipe majors, such as Jack Smith, Bob Hardie, Donald Shaw-Ramsay, Iain McLeod, and Tom McAllister. Along the way, he was a part of over a dozen World Drum Corps Championships, three World Solo Drumming Championships (1970, ’71, ’73), six World Pipe Band Championships (Edinburgh City Police 1954, Muirhead & Sons 1961, Shotts & Dykehead 1970, ’73, ’74, ’80), and five Champion of Champions titles (Muirheads 1962, Edinburgh Police 1969, Shotts 1970, ’73, ’80).

And, remarkably, most of this he was able to achieve while being general manager of a major engineering company in Grangemouth, Scotland.

The Edinburgh City Police, Muirhead & Sons, Invergordon Distillery, a reprise with the Edinburgh Police, and, finally, the celebrated 1970s vintage Shotts & Dykehead with Alex Duthart make for an unparalleled pipe band career—one that the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association paid homage to in 1997 when they presented Hutton with a special medal.

Born in 1936 in Wishaw, Scotland, Jim Hutton was destined—whether as a piper or drummer—to play in pipe bands. With his brother, David, a piper of renown who played with Muirhead & Sons a remarkable 29 years (1949-’78)—fifteen of those years (1963-’78) as Pipe Sergeant—and nine years with Shotts (1979-’86), Jim Hutton actually started as a piper. A brotherly tiff over a practice chanter resulted in Jim taking up the Highland snare. And, by chance or destiny, he ended up being taught by John Duthart, father of the great Alex, as well as the renowned drummer Gordon Jelly, and Alex Duthart himself.

There are few people today whose very person embodies pipe band drumming so well. Always a man of great personality and charm, of sharp wit and tremendous insight, since his retirement from competition in 1986 Jim Hutton has been great demand around the world as an adjudicator. Since he retired from his demanding job several years ago, he has turned his attention more to teaching, passing along his knowledge to young drummers in every continent where pipe bands play.

His teaching, though, is not limited to drumming. Jim Hutton knows what makes a good band work, whether its collaboration between Pipe Major and Leading Drummer, attention to musical detail from the drum section, or dealing with and building from questionable judging. Indeed, his thoughts are as interesting to pipers as they are to drummers. He’s known for his honesty and integrity—and his gift for telling great stories.

Jim Hutton today lives in Grangemouth, Scotland, with his wife Eileen. He has two children, and three grandchildren.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES