On this day in 1990: Flower of Scotland composer Roy Williamson dies

Roy Williamson, left, and Ronnie Brown pictured in Edinburgh in September 1980. Picture: Hamish Campbell
Roy Williamson, left, and Ronnie Brown pictured in Edinburgh in September 1980. Picture: Hamish Campbell
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On August 12, 1990, Scottish folk musician Roy Williamson died from a brain tumour.

Williamson, born in Edinburgh in 1936, founded the Corrie Folk Trio in 1962, alongside Ron Cruikshank and Bill Smith.

The trio played their first gig in the Waverley Bar on St Mary’s Street, but Cruikshank was forced to leave the band just weeks later due to illness.

It was Cruikshank’s departure that led to the arrival of Ronnie Browne, so that the band could fulfil their scheduled Edinburgh Festival performances.

Irish singer Paddie Bell joined the group, and the band was rebranded as the Corrie Folk Trio and Paddie Bell for the festival gigs.

Television appearances soon followed, initially on the Hoot’nanny Show and later on BBC show The White Heather Club.

The Corries (Williamson, left and Browne, right) on stage at the Caley Cinema during the 1966 Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Dennis Straughan

The Corries (Williamson, left and Browne, right) on stage at the Caley Cinema during the 1966 Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Dennis Straughan

By 1966 both Bell and Smith had left the band, with multi-instrumentalist Williamson and vocalist Browne soldiering on as a duo.

In 1974 the band, by now named The Corries, released Flower of Scotland as a single, although they had been working on the tune since 1967.

Despite now being synonymous with Scotland’s national football and rugby teams, it was initially adopted by boxer Ken Buchanan.

It was during the band’s 1989 tour that Williamson’s health began to deteriorate rapidly, and he was diagnosed with the brain tumour.

He died in Forres in August 1990.

Browne continued touring as a solo artist following Williamson’s death, but never quite managed to replicate The Corries’ levels of success.

Last year, Browne - who vowed never to perform the song again - claimed it would never be replaced as Scotland’s ‘unofficial’ national anthem.

Browne said: “What song in the world from Scotland is better known? People talk about Burns songs and so on. They’ve been around for two or three centuries. Have people cottoned on to them? No they haven’t.

“Flower of Scotland is everywhere. I’ve been right around the world and that’s the one they always want.”

The Corries were inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame in 2007.