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Peter McKandie: Popular Ceilidh Tyme accordionist from Huntly dies aged 78

Peter McKandie of the Ceilidh Tyme band.
Peter McKandie of the Ceilidh Tyme band.

As Peter McKandie was being cared for in hospital his nurse commented that he and his Ceilidh Tyme Band had played at her wedding.

It was a similar story from the family hairdresser.

However, it seems they may have been the lucky ones. For if you were married in the Huntly area in the 80s and 90s there is a good chance Peter and his band were the much-sought after entertainment – with a two year waiting list!

Now, in the wake of his death aged 78, his family has paid tribute to the hard-working man who found a love of accordion music that lasted a lifetime, entertaining tens of thousands of people across the north-east along the way.

Farm folk

Born May 14 1944 in Lauder Cottage, Kinnoir, to farmers John and Mary McKandie, Peter was one of nine children.

He and his four brothers and four sisters attended Ythanwells School for primary and secondary education. However, Peter left as a teenager to work with his dad –  a grieve at Bogfountain, Ythanwells.

Just before he left school, however, head teacher Mr Baird gave Peter accordion lessons. Although he didn’t enjoy being forced to play by the sheet music he discovered a talent for playing by ear, and a love of music that spanned the decades to come.

Finding love

Peter met Elma Ingram – a farmer’s daughter – at the dancing. He was 20 and she was 19. They married in Forgue Church on November 28 1964 and had a week-long honeymoon in Grangemouth. Although Peter cut it short after three days because the weather wasn’t great and he never did like being away from home.

They set up home at Auldyoch, Auchterless, before later moving to Douglashead, Tarves.

The couple had two daughters, Lorraine born in 1970 and Ruth in 1974.

In 1973 before the birth of their second daughter, the family moved to Comistry Cottages in Forgue and remained there for 49 years.

Ceilidh Tyme

Peter worked for various agricultural contractors and in his spare time began playing the accordion in local bands.

By the mid 1970s, however, Peter and Elma had formed their own duo. Elma sang and Peter played, and the pair toured small lounge bars across the north-east.

Peter McKandie, left, with Elma far right and Trish Smith on guitar.

They grew in popularity and by the late 1970s were asked to play at weddings and dinner dances which meant recruiting extra musicians. Over the years they had band members from Forgue, Insch, Strathdon and Rhynie.

One of the drummers from Insch, Callum Reid, named the band Ceilidh Tyme around 1980 and the name stuck.

Elma McKandie, Trish Smith and Peter McKandie of Ceilidh Tyme.

The success of the ceilidh band was attributed to the large repertoire of music, from Scottish, Irish and country music through to more modern songs.

In July 1981 Trish Smith from Gartly joined the band. She was a great yodeller, country singer and guitarist.

The band line-up stayed the same until their last gig, on January 7 2017 at Old Meldrum Legion.

Sought after

In the band’s heyday they played Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Lorraine added: “My dad would come home from work and then would be back out into the wee sma’ hours. Even after they officially retired they still played together in OAP clubs and sheltered housing complexes.”

Ceilidh Tyme’s final performance in 2017.

The only time Peter refused to play was Hogmanay – holding that dear for his family. The result was that he had a house full of people keen to see in the new year with fun and music. The only exception was at the Millennium when the British Legion in Keith twisted his arm to play.


Former band member Jimmy McIntosh paid tribute to Peter.

He wrote: “It was a lifetime ago but I’ll always cherish the times I spent with you all, in Ceilidh Tyme.

“The laughs we had, the shenanigans at the parties and halls we played across the north-east.”

As well as noting Peter’s facial expressions whenever he or Callum were “daein” something that wasn’t in time or tune with his strict guidelines, Jimmy added: “Oh to relive these happy days again. ‘Will ya geezah slosh?’ will be in my mind always. Thinking of you all and our happy Ceilidh Tymes.”


For his paid employment Peter remained a farm contractor and his last role was on the estate of the BMF Group in Forgue. There he worked on the maintenance team doing a variety of jobs which he enjoyed. He retired just after his 65th birthday.

The cake made to commemorate Ceildh Tyme’s final performance, depicting each of the three band members: Peter, Elma and Trish.

Peter began having breathing difficulties and in May 2021 was diagnosed with pulmonary failure and COPD likely from all his years playing in clubs.

Final ‘familiar’ farewell

Peter’s family are all talented musicians including his grandson Euan (16) who followed in his grandad’s footsteps, also playing the accordion. But it was Peter himself who played at his own funeral.

Using recordings of him in action, his coffin arrived to one of his favourite tunes, the  Green Glens of Antrim. And as the family arrived Peter was heard playing Amazing Grace.

“Whenever he would play in OAP centres he would also say ‘and this is the song I want at my funeral…’ before Somewhere My Love from Dr Zhivago. And so the organist played that one for us as his coffin left the church,” said Lorraine.

A well respected member of the north-east community, Peter will be sorely missed by family, friends and many supporters in the entertainment business.

You can read the family’s announcement here.