‘I could never have imagined where playing the pipes would lead me.’
Kevin has travelled the world playing the pipes. At 82 years old he has the lung capacity of a 25-year-old. Gently spoken he is a keen gardener and devoted grandparent.
Born in Orbost, Kevin would visit his Auntie’s family farm near Coleraine on school holidays. One day Kevin found a gramophone and a stack of records in the wool shed. All the records were of pipe bands.
‘As a young boy at the Anzac parades, I was so excited when the pipe band came along.’ His family hoped the pipes were just a phase he'd grow out of but Kevin bought a chanter and began practising.
At sixteen Kevin received an apprenticeship at the Government Aircraft factory before joining Ansett. It turned out that a fellow apprentice was a member of a pipe band. Kevin joined and has played in pipe bands ever since.
Moving to Tullamarine, Kevin found the perfect spot to practice. A back paddock, just off the main runway. Not everyone was happy about it though.
‘I can put up with the sounds of jets flying overhead, but the sound of the piper is souring the milk’ said a letter from a disgruntled dairy farmer, published in the Herald Sun in 1970. One day Kevin received a phone call from Bon Scott who’d found him in the Yellow Pages. Kevin had no idea who AC/DC were, nor did he have any interest in rock and roll.
Weeks later he was on the back of a truck playing ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top,’ and travelling down Swanston St for the video clip. He still plays in the ‘Rats of Tobruk,’ (known as ‘The Ratties’) and travels to compete in band tournaments.
He married Marie almost fifty years ago and promised he’d take her anywhere she wanted to go. Next year they are going to Kenya. ‘It’s taken this long to get there,’ she says, smiling.