Blair Douglas

Music from the Isle of Skye

Born in Uig, Isle of Skye, in 1954, Blair was brought up in Portree and Braes and moved to Glasgow in 1969 aged 15. He went to Bellahouston Academy and then to Glasgow University, where he graduated with a MA in Economics.

Blair first started playing the accordion when he was at Bellahouston but took it up more seriously during his student years. He teamed up with Calum and Rory MacDonald, who he knew from Portree High School, to form a band called Runrig. The early days were spent playing in village halls throughout the Highlands and Western Isles, delighting audiences with such classics as Johnny B. Goode, Maggie May and Father John MacMillan of Barra.

The three founder members were joined by Donnie Munro and Malcolm Jones and Runrig became a full time band. Blair left the band to return to Skye due to family illness but he continued as a professional musician, playing alongside various musicians in bands such as The Electric Ceilidh Band and St Andrew and the Woollen Mill.

Blair released his first solo album, Celtology, in 1984, followed by Beneath the Beret in 1990, which introduced the famous Kate Martin’s Waltz.

Summer in Skye was released in 1996 to critical acclaim, and was followed in 2004 by Angels from the Ashes. The title track was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 tragedy in New York.

An album featuring many songs rather than instrumentals was released in 2008 - Stay Strong has vocal contributions from Eddi Reader, Rory MacDonald, Michael Marra, Kathleen MacInnes and Arthur Cormack, Bruce Guthro and L’Angelus from Louisiana, Cookie Rankin and instrumental contributions from Malcolm Jones and Colin Tully.

Leanaidh Mi (I will follow) was recorded in Nashville in 2012 and featured contributions from Bryan Sutton, Wanda Vick, Brent Mason, Charlie McCoy and Gordon Gunn, with vocals from Kathleen MacInnes, Cathie Ann MacPhee, Iain Smith and Kathleen Graham. A new version of the eternally popular Kate Martin’s Waltz also featured on Leanaidh Mi.

In 2016, Blair released Behind the Name, a fully instrumental album with a broad mix of tunes from reels to marches and slow airs. Laoich Festubert (Heroes of Festubert) was commissioned by Urras an Eilein to commemorate the fallen Skye soldiers who died in WW2.

Blair has long had a fascination with the Italian Chapel in Lambholm, Orkney, and his eighth album, The Italian Chapel Suite, was released in 2018.

Blair Douglas

Blair Douglas | The Meek The Strong

Blair at home on Skye