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Updated 05/01/2013


Jimmy Findlater
Gordon Spiers

Gordon K. Speirs (19?? - 1994) grew up in a London orphanage; his parents were killed in WWII.  He was Pipe Major of The Blue Bonnets (City of London) Pipe Band in the 1960s and early 1970s. He later moved to Milwaukee and joined The Billy Mitchell Scottish and became its primary instructor and PM. He is reputed to have successfully played pipes and danced at the same time.  Gordon moved to Kansas City in 1977 but returned to Milwaukee around 1980 where he formed the Milwaukee & District Scottish Pipe Band in 1982 with his wife Catriona Hill (daughter of Bob Hill, PM Scots Guards) along with some members of The Billy Mitchell Scottish. Milwaukee & District competed in Grade IV, and in 1984, Grade III; which was the peak of this band's short life. Around 1985 Gordon and his wife divorced, and Gordon moved to the Denver area and later married Shelley, a piper.  He died in 1994.

Findlater is a common Scottish name derived from the Norse words fyn ("white") and leitr ("cliff").   It is not know who the subject of the song, “Jimmy” is.  The Earl of Findlater is a title (dormant since 1811) possessed by the Ogilvies, a branch of the Airlie family. It was first conferred on James, second Lord Ogilvy of Deskford, Banffshire, on 20th February 1638, to him and the heir’s male of his body succeeding to him in the estates of Findlater and Deskford.

Findlater Castle (shown above) sits in a romantic position on a 50-foot-high cliff overlooking the Moray Firth on the coast of Banff and Buchan, Aberdeenshire, Scotland west of Banff, near the village of Sandend, between Cullen and Portsoy.

Famous “Findlaters” include Jane Helen Findlater (4 November 1866, Edinburgh - 20 May 1946 Comrie) a Scottish novelist whose first book, The Green Graves of Balgowrie, started a successful literary career: for her sister Mary as well as for herself. They are known for their collaborative works of fiction as well as their own individual writing. Sometimes they are referred to as the Findlater sisters. Sir (Samuel) Findlater Stewart, GCB, GCIE, CSI (1879 – 1960) was a British civil servant of the Raj. George Findlater VC (16 February 1872, Mill of Turriff, Aberdeenshire – 4 March 1942, Turriff, Aberdeenshire) recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Jimmy Findlater, no relation to George Findlater V.C., was chairman of the London and South East Branch of the SPBA (later known as the RSPBA) during the 1970s. The tune entitled "Jimmy Findlater" was written on May 17, 1973 by Gordon Speirs at an airport while waiting to do a workshop for the Omaha Pipes and Drums. The "E D double-D C B" phrase that repeats in every part represents Jimmy's shuffling his feet while somewhat unsuccessfully trying to keep his balance down a hill, march in step, and carry the band's trophies all at the same time.