April 30, 2012

James Kerr, 1932-2012

James “Jim” Kerr, the Pipe-Major of the five-time Grade 1 North American Champion Worcester Kiltie Pipe Band of Massachusetts died on the morning of April 19, 2012, at the age of 80.

A native of Lanarkshire, Scotland, Kerr immigrated to the United States in 1956 along with a cousin, Alex Colville, who served as leading-drummer with Worcester for many years. Jim Kerr joined his father, Robert, in the US, and a brother, Blair, also was with the band. Jim Kerr’s older brother, John, who died in 2011, was a renowned drummer in Ontario with several Grade 1 bands.

Under Jim Kerr’s leadership, Worcester Kiltie became the first pipe band in the United States to rise to international prominence at the Grade 1 level. In 1964, Worcester Kiltie became the first band from the United States to compete at the World Championships, held in June in Glasgow.

In 1969 Worcester took a first prize at the Lesmahagow Highland Games against deep competition from top Scottish bands, including Muirhead & Sons, the reigning World Champions. It was the first time that an pipe band from the United States won a competition in Scotland.  Worcester also gained at least one prize at the World Championships under Kerr’s direction.

Worcester Kiltie won three consecutive North American Championships from 1960 to 1962.

The group assembled talent from the eastern United States and was well known for recruiting players from Scotland, coordinating jobs for them in the States, and Jim Kerr himself was originally brought to the US by Worcester with the express purpose of playing in the band.

Jim Kerr served as Pipe-Major of Worcester Kiltie until 1983 when he retired and was a frequent and well regarded pipe band judge throughout North America.

On behalf of Jim Kerr’s survivors and his many friends, we extend our sympathies at this sad time.




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