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Roddy the Piper – Background

Roddy started his bagpiping career at a very young age.  After a visit to Edinburgh’s military tattoo at the Castle at the tender age of 6 he was inspired to ask his parents for bagpipe lessons, and they gladly obliged.  He was taught at school by some excellent tutors – a big thank you must go to Gordon Campbell, Bobby Pinkman and George Lumsden for the fantastic tuition over the years, which have made Roddy into the piper he is today.

Roddy joined the very successful school pipe band at George Watsons.  While in the band Roddy was successful both individually and as part of the group – he won a gold in the Lothian and Borders solo competition, and a very creditable bronze in the under 18 world championships as a solo musician.  The pipe band is a hotbed of success, they have won championships including Scottish, British, World and have even been Champion of Champions.  Roddy completed his school career as  Pipe Major in the George Watsons School Band.

Along with playing at school, Roddy could be found outside the castle from about the age of 12, busking with his pipes for shiny change.  This then progressed to playing at weddings from the age of 15, moving on to Scottish shows and corporate events a year later.  This has been the closest that Roddy has come to actually having a proper job!!  He used his piping to pay his way through university, graduating with a business degree from Edinburgh University while accumulating even more experience playing his pipes at the same time.  A special thanks to all the venues which offered Roddy the opportunity to play, particularly The Gleneagles Hotel, who were incredibly supportive and generous.

Roddy graduated in 2001 at which point he decided to travel the world with his greatest love – yes, he took his pipes with him!  His outgoing personality coupled with the novelty of bagpipes in foreign lands meant he was a popular character on his travels.  Roddy’s pipes could be heard across Europe from Athens to Kiev, Asia, and as far as Australia and New Zealand (sometimes from here!)  It did leave him with a bit of a travelling itch, which does explain somewhat the next few years of his career.

On his return, he was keen to try and change the tired and stereotypical image of bagpipers – one of an old, bearded, slightly overweight ginger Scotsman – to reflect the new generation of pipers – the more fun and contemporary face of competition standard piping.  Roddy continued to pipe at weddings and events, with his own distinctive style and personality, and managed to snag himself a great gig playing on Scotland’s only international cruise ship, the Hebridean Spirit.  This offered him the opportunity to travel more, and also he met William Marshall, a talented pianist and accordion player (who Roddy has been trying to get rid of ever since)  In 3 ½ years of working on the ship and travelling the world (on and off) Roddy has been lucky enough to see some of the most stunning and exotic locations, from the Arctic to the Seychelles and most places in between.  One of his highlights has been addressing the haggis on a private island in the Maldives for one of the most remote Burns suppers to date.

Throughout his piping career Roddy has been asked about other performers, who he would recommend, and does he have a band?  With Will Marshall they formed the Reel Time Ceilidh Band, which played a more contemporary take on Scottish Ceilidh music.  Playing at a fast pace with a party vibe, the Reel Time Band showcases the contemporary face of Scottish music, and is perfect for up-beat ceilidhs, getting the crowd really jumping.  The Reel Time Band recorded its second album in 2015, so that you can still hear Roddy and his cohort in the comfort of your own home.

Roddy has always been at the forefront of moving piping forward into the 21st century.  From combining bagpipes with dance music to the combination of bagpipes and traditional ceilidh band in forming the Reel Time Ceilidh Band he has always been looking for ways to innovate. In 2003 he launched RoddythePiper.com, one of the first websites of its kind for finding and booking a bagpiper for events.  At the time the internet was not as commonplace and accessible as it is today, so it’s success was by no means guaranteed. With lots of help from his friends at Edinburgh University and lots of enthusiasm RoddythePiper.com became a success, and the business grew further and further.

Roddy the Piper - Background
Roddy the Piper - Background

In 2005 Roddy took the next step and formed Reel Time Events, an entertainment company specialising in Scottish entertainment.  With his years of experience and extensive contacts in the industry Roddy was perfectly placed to find and coordinate performers, from pipe bands and dancers to whisky and cheese tastings.  Reel Time Events now employ 6 staff in the office to manage the many enquiries and coordinate all of the performers that Roddy works with.

Roddy’s main passion is still playing the pipes, particularly with the Reel Time Ceilidh Band.  Showcasing the contemporary ceilidh style with rocking bagpipes and shattering the dusty old image of bagpipes is what gets Roddy excited.  Fusing bagpipes into modern tunes and bass driven dance music more recognisable to the younger generation is something that Roddy has helped pioneer, introducing a new sound to the Scottish circuit.  Inspired by his love for these two styles of music it was a natural conclusion to try and put them together.

Over his career Roddy has had the opportunity to play for some of the most recognisable and talented people across the world including:

  • Various members of the royal family including HRH Queen Elisabeth, Princess Anne, and the Duke of Edinburgh
  • Elizabeth Hurley
  • Keifer Sutherland
  • Billy Connolly
  • Kofi Annan
  • Pele
  • Chris Hoy
  • Andy and Jamie Murray
  • Alex Salmond & Nicola Sturgeon
  • Dario Francitti
  • Ashley Judd
  • Vernon Kaye
  • Team GB’s Olympians and Paralympians from the summer & winter Olympics
  • Scotland’s Commonwealth games competitors

And has piped at some prestigious events including

  • The unveiling of the baton for the Commonwealth Games baton relay
  • The Macbeth Premiere
  • The Ferrari 599 model launch
  • The Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead model launch