Tommy Johnston, 1955-2020

Tommy demonstrating to students the art of reed-making. The photograph was taken several years ago at a College of Piping Summer School.

Tommy Johnston died in hospital on Tuesday night after a short illness. He was 65.

Tommy was an immensely popular figure in piping and piping band circles. In the mid-1990s he set up Pipe Dreams with fellow ScottishPower Pipe Band member, Ronnie McShannon. The two launched their popular Ezeedrone drone reed on the market and it took off immediately. Most of the tools they used in the business were designed and manufactured by Tommy.

As a youngster in Northern Ireland, he served an apprenticeship as a toolmaker in his father’s business in Northern Ireland. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Glasgow and worked at BBC Scotland as an engineering technician. Prior to setting up Pipe Dreams, Tommy worked for Scottish Television.

Tommy Johnston.

A native of Northern Ireland, he was taught his drumming by William ‘Kit’ Reynolds and joined Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band for a spell. Later, he was a member of Alex Duthart’s legendary Shotts drum corps. In 1982, along with the rest of that corps – Bert Barr, Eric Ward, Arthur Cook and Drew Duthart – he joined British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band (BCal). Under new sponsors, the band became The Power of Scotland Pipe Band and then ScottishPower Pipe Band.

It was as a drummer in BCal that he met his future wife Anne (née Sinclair), who in 1980 won the Silver Medal. The couple later had son, Finlay.

We extend our sincere condolences to wife Anne, and son, Finlay.