The Music of Eric Campbell of Rogart

Rogart native, William Eric Campbell (1899-1997) who was known as Eric, or Eckie, was the eldest son of schoolmaster, William Campbell (1867-1930) and his first wife Helen Russell Macintosh (1871-1902).

Eric, like his father, was very musical and he composed a large number of piping tunes although he never learned to read or write music. As a result he would play his compositions on the piano for others to write up, or simply record them and send the recording to be turned into sheet music. 

A number of his works were recorded on old 78 rpm records and were picked up by contemporary pipers such as Captain John Archibald Maclellan MBE. His march, Braes of Ben Bhraggie appears in Maclellan’s 1972 collection of piping tunes More Music for the Highland Bagpipe.

More of Campbell’s tunes were broadcast on the long-running BBC Radio Scotland show Take the Floor. We are fortunate to have digital copies of a cassette recording Eric made for his family, which include some clips from the show. One piece of music was written for Robbie Shepherd, commentator on the popular programme.

Eric wrote a piece called John Mackay of Halladale who, in turn, reciprocated with Eric Campbell of Rogart.

The music Campbell composed reveals his long-lasting and deep-rooted affinity with Rogart, whilst his explanations about his tunes are fascinating in their own right.

“At last I’m able to give you my latest march William Campbell, Schoolmaster, Rogart. You will hear John Ellis and his Highland Country Band playing it on a radio broadcast; but they play it far too fast.” He then goes on to play his tune at his preferred speed.

Side two ends with Eric and his wife Betty sending “all our love and that includes Russell and Ed, God bless you all, Eric Campbell of Rogart”.

William Campbell, Schoolmaster, Rogart by Eric Campbell.

William Campbell, Schoolmaster, Rogart, by Eric Campbell. Played by John Ellis and his Highland Country Band in a radio recording from BBC Radio Scotland’s Take the Floor. 

The Braes of Ben Bhraggie by Eric Campbell.

Glenlivet, a Strathspey, played by Eric Campbell.

Bluebell Polka by Frank Stanley, played by Eric Campbell.

Jockie on the Braes of Abernethy. Written by John Mackay of Halladale for Eric’s sister Agnes.

Eric Campbell of Rogart by John Mackay of Halladale.

The Cockle Gatherer. Traditional, played by Eric Campbell.

The Royal Wedding of 1981, by Eric Campbell.

The Laird of Drumblair (a strathspey) and The Deil Amang the Tailors (a reel).

The Braes of Rogart and Agnes Black’s Reel.Written and played by Eric Campbell.

Amazing Grace (traditional spiritual).

Phil the Fluter’s Ball by Percy French, played by Eric Campbell

Dumbarton Castle with variations

The Miller o’Hirn (reel) by John Scott Skinner, Rachael Rae (a reel) and sign off by Eric Campbell.

Huge thanks to Eddie Campbell, Eric’s grand nephew, for providing these wonderful digitised recordings.