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Thread: Mourners say farewell to veteran musician

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Mourners say farewell to veteran musician

    Chris was still
    playing the drums
    into his eighties

    TRIBUTES were paid last week to the grand old man of Caithness dance
    bands, Chris Duncan, who passed away, earlier this month, at the
    residential care home in Wick, at the remarkable age of 87.
    Mourners, who filed into Wick St Fergus Church, heard the Rev John
    Nugent paint a picture of Chris as a "special man" with a deep love of
    his family, one with many strands to his life.
    Chris, who came into the world on May 8th, 1924, was one of seven
    children born to James and Williamina Duncan. Sadly, only one of
    the siblings survived, and was not fit to travel but was represented at
    the service, last Wednesday.
    Chris was educated at Wick North School, then the high school
    and, although not particularly, academic, showed great promise in
    technical subjects - skills that were to serve him well in later life.
    He could turn his hand to anything.
    His first job was at a local rope works, in Loch Street, Wick, where he
    learned, among other things, to repair nets, a skill that never left as
    he showed during a demonstration of net-mending at the Riverside home.
    Chris delivered milk for the Co-op for a spell, before receiving his
    call-up papers and served on a Royal Navy aircraft carrier in the
    Second World War.
    He showed a great talent for music and it began, said Rev. Nugent, to
    “shine through” after he returned to Civy Street, continuing the
    family’s musical tradition. His first connection with music was a
    humble one, drumming two spoons on the kitchen table but, soon, Chris
    graduated to drum sticks. Among the bands he performed with, were the
    Wick Scottish Broadcasting Band, the Rhythm Four, the Milton Trio
    and for many years with Bobby Coghill’s Scottish Dance Band. He was
    still playing at charity gigs, with the Denis Manson trio, up until a couple
    of years ago.
    Bobby and Chris forged a friendship that was to last many years and the
    latter paid him the personal compliment of composing a tune in his
    honour, the Chris Duncan Two-step, a recording of which was played as
    the coffin left the church. Two of the family flowers, reflected
    Chris’s role as a dance band drummer, and his interest in football.
    Although Scottish music was his main love, he was also a talented
    Chris often attended local dances and one Dolly Miller caught his eye.
    They began “stepping out” and were wed at the Nethercliffe Hotel, Wick,
    on October 15, 1954. They raised a family of three sons and were
    blessed with five grandchildren.
    Chris’s technical skills were never more evident than when he
    transformed their Roadside cottage into a home doing much of the
    renovation work,including the plumbing, himself. He was also a keen gardener,
    but there was a clear demarkation,Chris was responsible for the vegetable plot
    and Dolly looked after the flowers..
    Rev. Nugent said that the loss of his wife, in March last year, had
    literally “knocked the wind out of his sails”.
    The minister said that when he asked the family what they would most
    remember most about Chris the answers came spontaneously. They
    described him as “a thoroughly decent man" who always had time for
    people and would go out of his way, to help them and they paid tribute
    to the staff of the Riverside home who had cared for him with respect
    and dignity, in his latter time.
    At the family’s request, the collection was divided between the
    Riverside Home and Alzheimer’s Scotland. Following the service, Chris
    was laid to rest at Wick cemetery.
    Noel Donaldson writes: “As a fellow musician, I played with Chris on
    many occasions. Drummers don’t always get the credit they deserve,
    tucked in, as they are, at the back of the band. Such players are a
    vital component of a band. Chris certainly kept the tempo steady, never
    dominating but always ‘there’, knitting the whole thing together.
    He had another, attribute vital to the continuity of any band...he was
    easy to get along with.
    I can’t think of anyone locally, who has given that length service.
    I’m pretty sure, though, it’s not the end of Chris’s amazing dance
    band career and when he takes his sticks and brushes onto a ‘higher’
    level, I expect he’ll be soon tipping away with other Heavenly
    Last edited by Nwicker60; 22-Oct-11 at 08:45.

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