Kalamazoo Pipe Band History Page
Earliest Known Reference:
As a child in 1945 and for about 10 years
afterward, a local gent, who works for an internment company, remembers
regularly seeing about 20 pipers and drummers in parades in and near Kalamazoo.
One of the pipers was his neighbor - a Mrs. Teal or Thiel. She lived near
the corner of Hazard and East Main. Her daughter married a famous baseball
player named Lynn Squire who won several golden glove awards. The band was
still going into the mid/late 1950s and was made up of about half women and half
If you know of ANY information, photos or
remembrances of this group or anyone in it,
PLEASE let me know!
The current band began in 1964 around the piping and teaching abilities
of Dr. John Beaton, a Ph.D. Chemist who had emigrated from
Scotland in 1956 to Kalamazoo, Michigan to work for the Upjohn
Dr. Beaton had grown up piping with the Boy
Scouts in Scotland and spent some time with a band sponsored
by Anchor Mill (now Coats & Clark). He crowned his piping
career by playing with the legendary Red Hackle Pipe Band in
the early 1950's.
The Chanter Classes:
John found an willing and interested group of learners in
Kalamazoo and worked with them to instill the solid fundamentals
of piping. After meeting in the Beaton's basement for two years
the group needed a better place in which to practice and teach.
An association was formed with the Portage Adult Community
Education Center in 1966 which has lasted continuously for over
30 years. The idea of a pipe band was very well received in
Kalamazoo and some of the early progress was published in the
Portage Herald (now defunct) and the Kalamazoo Gazette. Here's a
photo of the original group of learners.
To this day, classes are held at the same place - in the
Portage Northern Middle School band room. Click here for more information on classes.
Pipes Ready, Pipes UP!
After learning the fundamentals of piping, the group invested in
pipes and, later, in kilts and drums.
A Gazette article says the group was known as "The
Kalamazoo International Pipers". (If anyone knows where the
tenor drums went, please let me know.
These photos are from the (now defunct) Portage Herald and the
The group was involved in parades and Scottish
festivals through the mid-1970's. Here are a couple pictures of
the band competing at the Alma Highland Festival. (Another drum
that I've never seen! )
About this time the drum corps found greater interest in other
activities (e.g., cars, romance, careers), left the band and
replacements could not be found. The band continued in its
teaching role and the pipers still met to play tunes and stay
If you have more photos, stories or mementos I'd love to chat
with you. Please contact me.
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