Published: August 31, 2011

Alasdair Gillies, 1963-2011

The legendary piper Alasdair Gillies died suddenly on the morning of August 27, 2011, at the age of 47. Probably the most successful solo light music competitor in history, Gillies won almost every major prize in both piobaireachd and light music, some many times over.

Born December 6, 1963, a native of Ullapool, Scotland, and the son of the great solo piper Norman Gillies, his record of 11 Former Winners MSR Silver Stars at the Northern Meeting may never be rivaled. Indeed, it was the Northern Meeting where Gillies reigned supreme, winning every trophy in both senior and junior piping but one – the B-Grade Strathspey & Reel – another record that might never be matched.

Among his other awards were the Glenfiddich Championship three times, both Highland Society of London Gold Medals and the Clasp at Inverness.

At the turn of the last century, Alasdair Gillies was voted by pipes|drums readers as the best piper of the 20th century.

He was a  career piper, first with the military as Pipe-Major of the Queen’s Own Highlanders and latterly as director of Carnegie-Mellon University’s degree in piping for 12 years.

A full appreciation of Alasdair Gillies will appear soon in pipes|drums.

On behalf of the world piping and drumming community, we extend our condolences to Alasdair Gillies’s family and friends at this sad time.

The funeral will be at 11 am on Saturday, September 3, 2011, at the Church of Scotland in  Ullapool.

8 COMMENTS

  1. A great loss for all who knew him and for those who have been inspired and entertained by his music. I posted a short video clip on his Facebook page that shows how many of us remember his upbeat and outgoing personality.

  2. What a devastating and very sad loss this is to the piping world. I am sad in my heart as i knew Alistair personlay as a fellow competitior and a much admired friend. I am thinking of his wee Laddie and his Family at present and all i can do is offer my deepest and heartfelt sympathy at this time. His music and character live on. James Stewart

  3. Rest in peace, Alasdair. You will be missed. My thoughts go out to his family and many friends. He was a rare treasure in what can seem an oft treacherous world.

  4. What price, comes brilliance? RIP Alisdair. Had the privilege to meet and spend a post-Cowal session with him some years ago, listening to him play 2/4 marches on a borrowed set of pipes (resurrected by Don Bradford) for seemingly hours without repeating himself. Magnificent player. Friendly and sincere by nature. Such a waste and loss. Vale.

  5. Our heartfelt condolences to the Gillies family, we are so sorry to hear of your loss, Alasdair will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure to take a class or raise a glass with him. The Farr Family, Portland, Oregon

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