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Tributes after death of Whitburn legend

Tuesday 16 February, 2021

It was with great sadness that members of Whitburn Band learned of the death of Sam Knox, who was part of the band for more than 70 years.

Sam (pictured above left, receiving an award from Iain Fleming) was a member of the first-ever Scottish band to win a national title when Whitburn won the Third Section National Championships in 1954 and he had still been a member of the Whitburn Heartlands until the end, passing on his considerable knowledge to the next generation of cornet players as they made their way in the banding world.

He became a Scottish champion with Whitburn for a remarkable 13th time in 2008, 40 years after his first triumph in the prestigious contest.

When Sam played his first notes with Whitburn, King George VI was on the throne. His first musical encounter with a brass band came after he heard one playing in the hall of the local pigeon racing club. From then on, he was hooked.

“I was given an Eb bass,” he said in an interview to mark his 70 years with Whitburn in 2018. “I took it down the road and my mother nearly had a fit when she saw this big clarty instrument.”

Sam didn’t stay on Eb bass for long. He was a brilliant cornet player, a constant powerhouse in the back row during the celebrated Major Peter Parkes era of the 1980s and 1990s, as Whitburn became one of the leading bands in the UK.

Sam was loved across the banding community and anyone who knew him from Whitburn knows he was a gentleman, a dedicated bandsperson and a dear, dear friend to anyone who had to the pleasure to know him.

A few years ago, in an interview series on Whitburn Band legends, Sam took a trip down memory lane to talk about his time with the band, and the camaraderie he had with his fellow players for many, many years. At the end, he summed up what brass banding and Whitburn meant to him. “I’d do the same again. Great days, great times. It was all worthwhile. You were achieving something, you were doing something for the community.

“It was great training for young folk – discipline, responsibility, being a part of something, being part of a team. You couldn’t get anything better.”

British Bandsman offers its deepest condolences to Sam Knox's family and friends at this difficult time.