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Macca and the piper from Scotland

Gordon Black was about eight-years-old in Ayrshire, Scotland when he saw his first television clip of The Beatles.

Some 47 years later he found himself on stage performing with one of them.

“It’s certainly a thrill of a lifetime,” said the 55-year-old pipe major of the Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band, which performed Mull of Kintyre with Paul McCartney Sunday and Monday at the Air Canada Centre. “He is a first-class gentleman.”

You never know what is going to happen in this life.

“It was so electric on that stage. It was something else,” said Gordon, who still has his delightful Scot’s brogue after emigrating to Canada in 1988. “It was an unbelievable experience and I just don’t think anything much can top it.”

If you look on YouTube you can find different videos of the performances and it’s clear McCartney was really enjoying having the band back him up on his 1977 song about an area of Scotland where he has a home and dearly loves.

Black, who started this band in 2000, has the same affection for the area which made for some great conversation between the two during rehearsal.

“We actually talked a lot about the place,” said Black. “And I knew some of the pipers who played on the original track and he was reminiscing about the recording session.”

Normally when Macca plays in Toronto he hooks up with the talented Peel Regional Police Pipe and Drum band but this year they were in Scotland competing at the world championships.

McCartney only plays Mull of Kintyre on Canadian dates of his North American tours and there was some fear he may not be able to this time since the Peel pipers were going to be away.

Enter Brantford funeral home operator Dennis Toll, who knew of the problem and with connections to McCartney’s people put forward the Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band, which came second at the World Championshps in 2008 and will, by the way, be performing this weekend at the Fergus Highland Games.

Now Black and fellow pipers Glen Howie, Marc Fournier, Alex Roy, Rick Denton, Heather Hager, Karen Stewart, Alastair Hutton, Andrew Hutton, Ian Davidson, Ben Reid, Bob Alan, Marcus Tonogai, Dylan Whitmore, Steph Varey, Kevin McNeilly, Kevin Bagg, Brad Smith, John McMorrow, Chad Granville, Alan McColl, Jay Woods and Marell Gibson, and drummers Kenny Oroz, Chris Faulkner, Alisha Walker, Alan McColl Sr., Darren O’Connor, Keith McFadden, Ian Ricketts. Graham Ricketts, Dave Constant, Britt Taylor, Denise Paterson, Lorne Taylor and Kathleen Little have a memory to last a lifetime.

Black knew of the gig for a while but kept it a secret from the band members until three weeks ago — also swearing them to silence which they did honour. “I was worried about Facebook,” admits Black. “But they were very good about it.”

Toll told Casandra Bellefeuille of the Paris Star “we wanted to respect the integrity of Sir Paul’s band. This is a special number for them and a special surprise for the audience.”

It certainly turned out that way it was equally as special for the band and McCartney.

“I will never forget looking into his eye and seeing the smile on his face,” said Black.

There were a few smiles on the faces of the Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band, too.

********

McCartney is all class and there were dozens of examples of that during his visits here that date back 46 years. He is loyal to Toronto and Toronto is loyal back.

My Aunt Pat O’Neill, of Kingston, and her friend Bev were at the Beatles show at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1964 and were there at The Hangar Sunday.

And my pal Tom Hayes of CTV fame went down with his daughter Kelly to get a glimpse and not only did they achieve that, they met him and got his autograph. He drew a peace sign for Kelly, which she is now going to turn into a tattoo and signed musician Tom’s White Album.

“Super guy,” says Tom. “Thing is, he did not have to do it but he did — leaving Kelly and I with a life moment.”

Richard Budman of HoundsTV.com fame tells me McCartney, who rehearsed Saturday night at The Docks and stayed at The Four Seasons, tries as hard as he can to do things like this. “He is one of the nicest people in the world.”

Thought I would Get Back to writing something happy for a change. Have a terrific weekend everyone. Scrawler out!

Last Updated: 08/14/10 15:01
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News Summary

Gordon Black was about eight-years-old in Ayrshire, Scotland when he saw his first television clip of The Beatles. Some 47 years later he found himself on stage performing with one of them. “It’s certainly a thrill of a lifetime,” said the 55-year-old pipe major of the Paris-Port Dover Pipe Band, which performed Mull of Kintyre with Paul McCartney Sunday and Monday at the Air Canada Centre. “He is a first-class gentleman.”