March 07, 2023

How Field Marshal will try to stay on top of the world: P-M Richard Parkes and new L-D Gareth McLees – Part 1

Gareth McLees

It’s rare when two of the world’s perennial top-six Grade 1 bands make a leadership change in the same year, and it’s rarer still when one of them is the reigning World Champion, but that’s exactly what the pipe band world saw in 2022 when both Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia and Field Marshal Montgomery brought on new leading drummers.

Each band made the change in percussion leadership after two decades or more with the same guy, and each band looked to young, accomplished players to usher in it’s next generation.

Richard Parkes

We spoke earlier with Boghall’s Pipe-Major Ross Harvey and Leading-Drummer Kerr McQuillan, and now we check in with Field Marshal’s Pipe-Major Richard Parkes and Leading-Drummer Gareth McLees.

Parkes of course is considered by most as the greatest pipe-major of all time, with more than 100 major championship titles and, after the win last year, an astonishing 13 World Championships – both all-time records. And most of those victories were with Leading-Drummer Keith Orr, who held the post since 2012.

McLees ascends to the pressure-packed position after a collective 15 years with Field Marshal Montgomery, during which he was part of five World Championship wins. He had a stint with Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia, winning the World’s in 2015 with Leading-Drummer Jim Kilpatrick, and also was leading-drummer of the Grade 1 Western Australia Police for a few years.

As a soloist, McLees has been chapping on the door of winning the World Solo Drumming Championship, three times runner-up, including in 2022.

Only 32 years old, McLees has already built a great pipe band drumming career, and his future with Field Marshal Montgomery looks exciting, challenging and bright.

We hope you enjoy and learn from our two-part discussion with Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe-Major Richard Parkes and Leading-Drummer Gareth McLees at one of the mot interesting points in time for both the band and pipe band history.

Stay tuned to pipes|drums for Part 2 of our chat with Richard Parkes and Gareth McLees coming in the next few days.





Forgotten Password?