Willie McCallum Sr., 1928-2016
William McCallum Sr., the well-known and much-loved piping personality of Campbeltown, Scotland, died suddenly on April 8, 2016, while on a trip to Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, with his son, the legendary piper Willie McCallum Jr., at the annual Donald MacLeod Memorial Invitational Competition. He was 87.
The older McCallum had just finished listening to his son play well across all three events, narrowly missing the overall title.
Willie McCallum Sr. was a piper, but stopped playing early, playing for a time with the local band, of which he was also secretary. His presence around piping in Scotland was almost ubiquitous. He was the head of the Kintyre Pipers Society in Scotland, and a primary organizer of many competitions and events, including the annual Springbank Invitational.
In his pipes|drums Interview of 2009, Willie McCallum Jr. responded to a question about who had the most influence on him as a piper:
“My father without a doubt. He’s the only person I’ve met, who can listen to piping 24 hours a day. He’s got an amazing appetite for listening to bagpipes. It’s huge. I’ve never met anyone who loved it so much. When he was young he got lessons, but he didn’t carry it on because he was working and he just never continued. And, obviously, there are other pipers in the family, so he was kind of frustrated that he didn’t do that. But he’s been a huge driver for me. And if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t playing. There’s no doubt about that.”
Both Willie McCallums were inseparable and the two made up one of the most charming and likable pairs in the piping world. He loved to listen to his son perform, and fittingly made the long journey to Stornoway one last time.
Willie McCallum Sr.’s accomplishments as a piper were few, but his contributions to the scene and the art were many. At the 2003 Glenfiddich Championships, he was awarded the Balvenie Medal for services to piping.
We extend our sympathies to the McCallum family and to Willie McCallum’s innumerable friends at this sad time.