The funeral of Alex Connell, who died last Friday aged 85, will take place at 09:45 next Tuesday (May 7) at Daldowie Crematorium near Uddingston.
Alex was a legendary figure in the pipe band world. He was part of a generation of young pipers and drummers that learned to play whilst member of the Boys’ Brigade. Alex joined the 214 Boys’ Brigade in 1947 – the same battalion Joe Noble, Ian McLellan, Stephen McQuillan, Hector Russell, George Seymour, Alex Ibell and Stirling McMurchie also began their pipe band careers with. The 214 was based at Gordon Park Church in the Whiteinch district of Glasgow, and the drumming instructor was Willie Paterson of the Rutherglen Pipe Band.
Aged 15, Alex joined the Clan MacRae Pipe Band and at 18 was appointed Leading Drummer of the Renfrew Pipe Band. In 1958 he joined the Glasgow Police, becoming Drum Sergeant in 1961.
As a youth, Alex won both the Junior and Senior BB Championships and as an adult he won the Glasgow and West of Scotland Solo Championships many times. He was rarely out of the top six placings in the RSPBA’s World Solo Drumming Championships. Joe Noble said that Alex Connell was the best pipe band leading drummer he had ever heard.
In the early 1960s, Alex took over as leading drummer of the band from John Walley. He worked with three of the band’s Pipe Majors – Angus MacDonald, Ronnie Lawrie and McLellan. He and Ian McLellan would go on to be the architects of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band’s phenomenal success from the early 1970s through to the 1980s, leading the band to seven World Pipe Band Championship titles in 1976, 1979 and from 1981 to 1985.
Alex’s drum corps had many successes but its biggest success would come in 1981 when it won the drumming at three of the major pipe band championships.
We send our condolences to wife Molly – for whom Jim Wark composed the well known strathspey – and daughter Heather.
A spokesman for Glasgow Police Pipe Band said: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of ex-Glasgow/Strathclyde Police Drum Sergeant, Alex Connell. Alex is a stalwart of the band’s history and was renowned for his musicality in his drum score compositions. Alex was leading drummer of the City of Glasgow/Strathclyde Police Pipe Band from 1961-1985 and played a huge role in leading the drum corps through the band’s most successful period, including seven World titles.
“Alex was also an excellent drum kit player, renowned for his Jazz and Scottish Dance Band styles of playing. Many of the band’s current and past members still tell affectionate stories of Alex; a testament to his character and influence he had on those around him.
“The band would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family at this sad time, as we remember one of our greats.”