September 30, 2009

Updated: William McIntosh, 1954-2009

Friends and colleagues of the former Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band bass drummer William McIntosh have been saddened to hear of his sudden loss earlier this week. Willie (55) passed away peacefully in his sleep on the morning of September 9, 2009, having only been diagnosed this August with cancer.
Willie McIntosh’s unique style of ensemble oriented bass and tenor drumming in the 1980s and 1990s set the benchmark that is still evident to this day in the House of Edgar Shotts & Dykehead Pipe Band and influencing drum corps the world over.
Commonly known in pipe band circles as “Willie Mac,” Willie began his pipe band career with the juvenile 1st Port Glasgow Boys’ Brigade Pipe Band under the leadership of the late Pipe-Major Donald Thompson and Leading Drummer Evan Jones. The band enjoyed success that would replicate itself in later years for Willie, winning a Champion of Champions ‘Grand Slam’ of the Scottish, British, European, Cowal and World Championship titles.
Willie’s first Grade 1 experience was with the 100 Pipers Whisky Pipe Band under Pipe-Major Eddie McAteer and Leading-Drummer Norrie Thomson. During his time there, Willie helped the band win an Inter-Continental Championship and a British Championship with the drum corps.
He later moved to the Grade 1 Red Hackle Pipe Band (later Britoil Pipes & Drums), which was led by Pipe-Major Malcolm MacKenzie and Leading-Drummer Evan Jones. Willie played with the band for a number of years until the end of 1986, when he and close friends Gordon McDermid, Gordon Brown and Steven Brown joined the newly re-structured Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, which was to be led by Pipe-Major Robert Mathieson and Drum Major Jim Kilpatrick (MBE).
After a season of consolidation for the band in 1987, nobody could have guessed what was about to happen in drumming circles. In 1988, the Shotts drum corps won the first of what was to be an unprecedented 11 successive World Drum Corps Championships, as well as three other majors and the Champion of Champions award. In the years that followed, Willie performed in no fewer than 48 major title wins; 16 for the band including World Championship wins in 1994 and ’97 and 32 major drum corps titles including nine World Drum Corps Championships, five Cowal Championships, four European Championships, four British Championships, two Scottish Championships and eight Champion of Champions. Willie is without question one of the most successful bass drummers in pipe band history.
Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia grand slam-winning drum section, 1991. The late Willie McIntosh is at centre, back row.
At the conclusion of a highly successful season culminating in a World Pipe Band Championships win in 1997, Willie retired from the band to concentrate on his family and his profession as a Quantity Surveyor with Greenock based Fyfe Gerrard & Paton.
Willie’s leading drummer at Shotts, Jim Kilpatrick MBE saw him as a key member of his World Championship winning drum corps:
“Willie played a huge role in the successes of the Shotts band; in particular the Shotts drum corps and was integral in what is now probably seen as the most successful era of pipe band drum corps history in being a part of the eleven-in-a-row World Championship wins with the corps and many other major championship wins. Everybody in my corps knows that I not only look for the best players to be part of it, but also the best people. Willie Mac was one of the most loyal guys and one of the best members of the Shotts corps I ever had the pleasure to play with."
Along with former Shotts tenor drummers Gordon Brown and Steven Brown, Willie came out of retirement in 2005 to head up the bass section of the Inverclyde & District Pipe Band in Grade 2, hanging up his mallets for good at the end of that season.
Willie’s natural and professional flair for precision and accuracy was always evident in his compositions and performances and admired and respected by his band colleagues and competitors alike.
Willie made his mark on pipe band drumming history in abundance and his musicianship is there to be enjoyed by generations to come in the Shotts recordings Another Quiet Sunday and By the Water’s Edge.
An extremely popular, friendly and jovial personality, Willie Mac will be missed by every one of his friends – past and present – in pipe bands.
Willie is survived by his mother, Tilly, wife, Marissa, children Lauren and Euan, and grandson Logan. The thoughts of the pipe band world are with Willie’s family.
A funeral service will take place at Greenock Crematorium at 10 am on Monday, September 14, 2009.
– Submitted by Scott Currie


  1. Good to remember a very talented and modest man. I was in the BB just as Willie joined the Hackle and he taught me on the door of the BB kitchen.



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