Updated: John D. Burgess, 1934-2005

Published: June 30, 2005

John D. Burgess, one of the world’s most famous, respected and beloved pipers, died today after a lengthy battle with complications resulting from an automobile crash near his home in Invergordon, Scotland. He was 72.

Born in 1934, Burgess first gained enormous fame as a child prodigy. Pipe-Major William Ross’s prized pupil, he won both Highland Society of London Gold Medals in 1950 at the age of 16, and went on to win virtually every solo piping prize there is. He was Pipe-Major of the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band between the tenures of Donald Shaw-Ramsay and Iain McLeod, and played with the Invergordon Distillery Pipe Band under Ramsay in the 1960s. For the last 25 years has been a much sought-after teacher and judge. His most famous pupil was Brian Donaldson.

His funeral will be on Monday, July 4, and is private to family and close friends.

A few weeks ago while driving, a car reportedly pulled out of a side road causing Burgess to brake suddenly. A crash ensued triggering the emergency air-bag system. As the bags deployed they struck Burgess violently and the car came to stop in a ditch.

The impact of the air-bag caused severe and painful bruising to Burgess’s chest and no other damage at the time, but an infection set in and his lungs filled with fluid, which triggered a break down in other functions, eventually affecting his kidneys. Burgess had been on a life-support system.

He was the subject of a two-part interview in the Piper & Drummer magazine in 1995.

On behalf of the piping and drumming world, we extend our condolences to John Burgess’s family and his many, many friends across the piping world. He will be greatly missed.

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