January 21, 2014

Merriman retires; gives way to Biggar at Pleasanton

After a collective 30 years as leader of the Pleasanton / Santa Rosa games in California, Bill Merriman has retired, handing over the job again to John Biggar, who chaired the event for 13 years in the 1980s and ’90s.

Merriman first acted as chair of the piping and drumming side of the Santa Rosa games – officially the “Caledonian Club of San Francisco Highland Gathering & Games” – in 1966 following his move to San Francisco from his native Winnipeg, Canada.

Merriman at first joined the City of San Francisco Pipe Band, and started a youth pipe band as a feeder group, which eventually became the Prince Charles Pipe Band that has enjoyed a long and successful tenure as one of the western United States’ premier pipe bands. Merriman is said to have tutored more than 500 pipers in the last 50 years.

Biggar is a snare drummer with the Culloden Moor Pipe Band, and served as piping and drumming chair of the Pleasanton games, where the event moved to in the 1990s. The event will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2015, making it one of the world’s longest-running annual Highland games.

“The Caledonian Club wishes to express sincere gratitude to Bill for his many years of service,” the group said in a statement. “The Club also welcomes back John Biggar who is Past President of the Western United States Pipe Band Association, past-Chief of the Caledonian Club and has over 50 years of pipe band competition experience.”

The organization added that the competition has added Jim Laughton and Jim Harrington as advisors, and that Biggar has made WUSPBA President Jeff Mann the co-chair of what they contend is “the best two-day pipe band competition in North America.”


  1. I owe almost 45 years of joy – as a piper, teacher of piping, adjudicator and pipe major – to Bill. The west coast and bands across the piping world have benefited from Bill’s influence. Many thanks and much love to you, and welcome back, Mr. Biggar and Co.!!!

  2. Bill, thank you for many years of teaching hundreds of pipers and drummers, and bringing GREAT Grade 1Bands to Santa Rosa and Pleasanton, giving all west coast pipe bands something to aspire to. I know John has big shoes to fill… but he has big feet!!!!



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