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Jim Taylor: Former Grampian Police pipe major who appeared in Bond film dies

Jim Taylor, former pipe major of Grampian Police Pipe Band.
Jim Taylor, former pipe major of Grampian Police Pipe Band.

Jim Taylor, a former Scots Guardsman, police officer and pipe major who featured in the 1967 film Casino Royale, has died aged 84.

He was born in New Pitsligo, spent three years as an army piper before joining Glasgow City Police and later joined the North East Counties Constabulary.

The highlight of Jim’s piping career came in 1989 when Grampian Police Pipe Band won the Braemar Highland Society Championship.

Royal day

Jim proudly stepped up to accept the award from the Queen on behalf of the band.

From a young age, Jim, the son of John (Jock) and Meg Taylor, had taken an interest in music and he started piping lessons aged 11.

When he joined the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards in 1956 he was already a proficient piper and was soon given a front-rank position.

In 1957 the battalion was posted to Chelsea Barracks, London, for a tour of royal duties.


Jim was involved in the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, Trooping the Colour, royal banquets, and played for visiting dignitaries, royal families and global political leaders.

The Scots Guards played around the capitals of Europe and, on a three-month tour of the US and Canada they visited 39 states.

The band made several television appearances, met some of the biggest stars of the day including Slim Whitman, Hank Snow and Frankie Vaughan, played with the Mantovani Orchestra, and appeared on the Roy Rogers Show.


In 1959 Jim left the army to join the Glasgow City Police, and of course, the force’s pipe band.

This was the most famous civilian band in the world and they won all the major competitions: Scottish, British, European and Commonwealth Championships except one. They missed out on becoming world champions by a quarter of a point.

Jim Taylor pipes a haggis aboard a Dan Air flight ahead of a Burns Supper in 1989.

Jim made multiple appearances on television and was a yearly fixture every Hogmanay on the White Heather Club alongside the likes of Jimmy Shand and Andy Stewart.

Perhaps the highlight of Jim’s playing career with the Glasgow Police Pipe Band was its role in the Bond film Casino Royale in 1967.


Jim met many famous people throughout his career including Marlon Brando, Peter O’Toole, Ursula Andress, Red Adair and Peter Sellers.

His pipe band featured in Harry Secombe’s Highway programme during the 1980s and early 1990s.

Jim piped with Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics in a show at the Capitol Theatre, Aberdeen.


He met Maurice Chevalier and Marlon Brando at a UNICEF concert in Paris during the 1960s when the Glasgow police band represented Scotland, however, Jim was most settled when he came home to his wife Gladys.

The pair had met almost 80 years ago while at primary school in New Pitsligo. They married in 1959 and the next year their family was complete when their son David was born.

In 1972 the family returned north and Jim went on to serve with the police in  Fraserburgh, Aberchirder, Bucksburn, Queen Street headquarters and Peterhead.

Pipe major

He became part of the Grampian Police Pipe Band in 1975 serving first as a piper, then pipe sergeant before he was promoted to pipe major in 1987.

His patience, management and steadiness leading the band was instrumental in them enjoying their most successful competitive season ever in 1989, winning 13 trophies from competitions throughout Scotland.

Jim Taylor with the Queen at Braemar Gathering.

Jim retired not long after the band’s spectacular royal day at Braemar in 1989 but returned to the police support staff as a legal documents officer until finally retiring in 2002.

When David and his wife May moved to the South of France to live in 1995, Jim and Gladys were regular visitors and loved exploring places like Antibes, Cannes, Monaco and Valbonne.

Grandson Callum, who was born in 2005, delighted Jim by showing an interest in music and playing the saxophone.

Noble forebear

May has been undertaking genealogical research of late and has discovered that Jim’s 21st direct great-grandfather was Robert the Bruce, which also makes David a direct descendant of the king.

Jim’s family and friends described him as a warm, open and unassuming man who treated all people the same. He will be very sadly missed.

A spokesman for the Retired Police Officers’ Association said: “As a band member, police officer and as a person, Jim was always held in high esteem by all those who knew him.”

You can read the family’s announcement here.

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