John Kerr, 1929-2011 (funeral details added)
We are sad to report the passing of the renowned pipe band drummer John Kerr on October 1, 2011, aged 82.
Born in Forth, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Kerr learned his snare drumming craft in an area already rich with pipe band drumming talent and tradition. He started at the age of six with initial instruction from his cousin Alex Colville, and within a year was competing with the Kingshill Number Two Colliery Pipe Band. He would go on to be taught by Leading-Drummer Gordon Jelly of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band.
Following his duties in the military, Kerr joined Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and played with that band from 1949 to 1953, latterly as Leading-Drummer, and in 1952 won the World Solo Drumming Championship.
In 1953 John Kerr immigrated to Canada, drawn to the Canadian Air Force after being approached by Pipe-Major J.T. MacKenzie. In Canada with the military he served initially in Calgary, but then in 1959 he joined the RCAF Rockcliff Pipe Band, which won the North American Championship in 1960.
While with RCAF Rockcliff Kerr was permitted to play with civilian bands and competed with the Grade 1 General Motors Pipe Band from 1974-’75 and Caber Feidh/City of Toronto from 1976-’79.
In 1981 Kerr joined the Grade 1 McNish Distillery Pipe Band as Leading-Drummer under Pipe-Major Gord Tuck. Kerr moved to Ottawa in 1984 where he was Leading-Drummer with the short-lived Grade 1 Dunvegan Pipe Band with Pipe-Major Scott MacAulay. John Kerr stopped competing in the early-1990s, but continued to commit himself to teaching and occasional adjudicating on the Ontario circuit.
John Kerr was known for his quick wit and inventive drumming style who admitted that he was “liberal” with his ideas, especially in the later part of his competitive career. His impact on drumming in Ontario had an important effect on the growth of pipe bands in the region. Jim Hutton discusses John Kerr briefly in his pipes|drums Interview of February 2000.
We extend our sympathies to John Kerr’s survivors and many friends at this sad time.
In accordance with John Kerr’s wishes, the funeral will be private but a celidh will take place on Friday, October 14th, at 4:30 pm at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 638, 70 Hines Road, Kanata,Ontario.