Canada 150: the 15 Greatest Canadian Pipers & Drummers (deceased)
#9: John Kerr
Perhaps no drummer has had a greater impact on the Canadian pipe band scene than John Kerr. Born in Forth, Lanarkshire, Scotland, Kerr learned his snare drumming craft in an area already rich with pipe band drumming talent and tradition. He would go on to be taught by Leading-Drummer Gordon Jelly of the great Dalziel Highland Pipe Band. 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. John 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. He was a prodigious teacher and played and competed for as long as his body would let him, dying in 2011 at the age of 82.
Nice work! John Wilson published 3 collections of pipe music, the third being the Canadian Centenial collection…all three of which I continue to use and teach my students today…
It is interesting that none of the excellent 15 selected musicians appear to be players who played predominantly for dancing. Today, we seem to be band players, solo competitors or piobaireachd pipers. Would there be any interest in a list of 150 ceilidh/dance pipers.