Born in Forth, Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1929 Kerr learned to play the snare drum in an area already rich with pipe band talent and tradition. Within his own family, his father was a piper and both his brothers also became pipers. John started at the age of six with initial instruction on the drums from his cousin Alex Colville, and within a year was competing with the Kingshill Number Two Colliery Pipe Band. He would go on to be taught by Lead Drummer Gordon Jelly of the Dalziel Highland Pipe Band and also received early tuition from Alex Duthart.
In 1953 John was drawn to the Canadian military after being approached by Pipe Major J.T. MacKenzie, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force at CJS London, England. The first three years he served in Marville, France employed as a plumber, living in Belgium with his family. He became a Canadian citizen and on immigrating to Canada he first served in Calgary, but then in 1959 joined the RCAF Rockcliffe Pipe Band where he played under Pipe Majors A.R. Howie, J.T. MacKenzie and finally Archie
Cairns. With P/M MacKenzie and Lead Drummer Kerr, the band won the North American Grade 1 Championship at the Glengarry Highland Games in Maxville in 1960.
Thank you to Graeme Ogilvie and Jim Corrigan for this instalment.