May 06, 2021

A photo album of Stone Mountain 1981

The year is 1981, forty years ago now, and the place is the Stone Mountain Highland Games at historic Stone Mountain Park, deep in the heart of Georgia. The event was fledgling then, but already attracting a wide swath of American pipers and drummers looking for an end-of-season event to wrap things up in October.

The competition had, and still has, deep pockets, with solid backing from successful fifth-generation Scots-Irish immigrants to the deep south supporting the event that continues in the shadow of the massive carving on Stone Mountain itself that commemorates the historical figures of the Confederacy.

The Stone Mountain Games made history itself: it was possibly the first contest in the world to hold a special Friday night competition for professional solo pipers. The event quickly began to attract a higher standard of players, and set it apart as a special event. The Friday solo competition is now a familiar event around North America.

The 1981 Stone Mountain Highland Games was the ninth annual event, and pipers from up and down the eastern side of the United States attended. The next year, the games would fly in the Grade 1 British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band, led by Pipe-Major Harry McNulty and Lead-Drummer Alex Duthart, bringing with them a battalion of Gold Medallists populating their ranks.

We recently happened upon a file of photos from the 1981 Stone Mountain games, featuring some famous names in American piping, including a very young Mike Cusack, who would go on to become the most competitively successful solo piper in US history.

We hope that you enjoy these snapshots from a moment in piping and drumming time.



A photo album of Alma 1978


  1. Thanks for those wonderful old photos. It seems like we all had the enormously long blowpipes back then, LOL. Thank goodness for modern third-party products!

    It was nice to see a rare shot of the legendary Sandy Keith on the boards, along with some other superb pipers and fellow competitors from the era.

    Keep these old photos coming!


  2. I remember that year. I had just moved to the States and was PM of the Inveraan band from St. Louis.
    We were playing so well in the tuning park that some unknown committee member came up to me as we were on the trigger telling us we were being upgraded from Grade 4 ( our registered grade) to grade 3. Needless to say I had a few choice words for her. Great times. Thanks for that picture.
    Martin Docherty

  3. The un-named female piper is Maggie Anderson Shafer. She was from Savannah,Georgia and a pupil of Sandy Jones. She later married Ron Shafer of Connecticutwho was a pupil of the late Hamilton Workman and who had some successes in Scotland in the mid 80s. Great pics! I was there that year and won the Amateur Grade IV trophy as a youngster.



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