At the age of 14, Tom Brown knew what he wanted to do. Like his father and grandfather before him, he wanted to play the bagpipes.
More than 20 years ago, Jack Coghill, a Carleton University instructor in the bagpipes, met Brown. The teen wanted to join the Cameron Highlanders’ pipe band where Coghill was pipe major.
“I fondly recollect meeting Tom for the first time as the pipe major. I had this 14-year-old whippersnapper coming up and he was right in my face saying, ‘OK, I’m in the band. I want to join this band. I’m ready to go.’ And, indeed he was.”
Brown died Tuesday, from cancer, at the age of 40.
The renowned musician was pipe major for the Royal Canadian Air Force pipes and drums band, and his were the pipes you heard annually at Ottawa’s Remembrance Day ceremony.
“I recall many times on November 11th, late afternoon, after the ceremonies, going back and hearing him playing. You hear the snippet on the radio and his pipes were always perfect,” Coghill said during an interview on CBC Radio’s All in a Day.
“Despite it being two-or-three-degrees-below Celsius and the wind blowing, he was in full dress highland uniform. It was sensational. I was always so proud hearing him,” he said.
Brown took pride in his piping heritage, Coghill said.
“It meant everything to him. He was so proud of his grandfather and the military legacy of pipers in war and peace. And all the ceremonial aspects of it. Tom stood out as the ultimate professional. He carried it off like no other. He was the best.”
In fact, said Coghill, Brown’s musicality went beyond pipes. He was also an accomplished sound technician and recording engineer.
“Tom had this quality audio technicians refer to as ‘golden ears.’ And it’s a very rare individual who can hear things which the other 99 per cent of us cannot,” he said.
Zest for life
Friend and fellow musician and recording…