Fitchet was born in Dundee in 1910 and became one of Scotland's foremost
fiddlers and Scottish Country Dance Bandleaders.
He began playing at the tender age of five. Then, at the ripe old age of
twelve, he stood-in for an absent violinist at a local cinema showing silent
films and was soon making five shillings a week doing this. He wrote his
first tune, the March, ‘Mr Michie’, at the age of 16 in 1926.
In 1932 he married Matilda Speirs Rowan, but sadly this union was ended by
1932 Marriage Angus W. Fitchet And Matilda Spiers Rowan
The marriage certificate shows that his father’s job had been that of
'Scavenger', but it is known that he too had been an accomplished fiddler.
His son in later life, clearly in memory of his father, composed and played
a 'Two Step' called 'The Dancing Dustman'.
Dancing Dustman Two Step
Writing tunes in fond memory of his closest friends was a feature of his
work .... and these rank among the loveliest of his compositions.
In the late 1930s he went to Largs to join a five-piece orchestra in a
restaurant there. He also played in the Winifred Bird Mathew Band in Dundee,
and then later appeared with accordionist Will Starr.
He joined Jimmy Shand’s Band in 1945 and this gave him a real taste for
Scottish band work. So much so that in due course he formed his own highly
successful Scottish Dance Band, and drove all over Britain in an old Dodge
Red Cross ambulance run on half petrol, half paraffin (!) to play at
dances large or small. During this time, his band also made many live
wireless broadcasts and records.
Eventually Angus returned to playing solo fiddle, and toured with Will Starr
and Robert Wilson. He was renowned for his note-perfect sweet tone despite
having a very modest fiddle. He was known to describe it as “an auld bit o'
stick”. However, he did insist on a having an excellent bow.
He was in his late sixties when he joined Jimmy Blue, whose band travelled
full time with Andy Stewart. Andy loved Angus' humour and many a time "dried
up" onstage because of Angus' witticisms. Andy indeed wrote a twenty-three
verse poem in his honour entitled ‘On Angus Fitchet’. Although suffering
from arthritis and deafness, he continued entertaining, and was often a
guest with Bobby Crowe and his Band at venues all over Scotland and in the
North of England.
Amazingly, he was still performing in his early eighties, and even completed
a broadcast for the BBC c.1991. His reel, "J.B. Milne", has probably been
broadcast more than any other Scottish tune.
J B Milne
When asked, not long before his death in 1998, how he would like to be
remembered, Angus considered for a few moments, then replied: "Angus Fitchet,
composer and fiddler."
Lament for Jim McFarlane of Blair Athol
ON ANGUS FITCHET
Come rub the rosin on the bow
And let the warl' gae
Whiles I tae Angus Fitchet heed
That coaxes up a tune,
That coaxes up a bonnie tune
An' maks yon fiddle sing,
The verra lame
when he begins
Wad dance the heilan' fling.
Syne when ablow his
The trusty Hardy grips
The Merlin o' the music, he,
The shades of Skinner and of Gow
Wham nane shall
I fancy tap their toes in time
And nod their grave
Strathspeys sae stately and demure
Come singing frae his
While jigs and reels, however gleg,
Dance out at his command.
Sae blythe and sweet his fiddle sings
And brawly fills the air,
His smiles and looks tell a' the tale,
A lang-matched love affair.
Wha' is sae heavy-fitted then
An' weary as the Deil
But loups like
ony skippin' lamb
When Fitchet plays a reel?
An wha' can keep frae
I say he isna human,
When Angus plies his skill upon
"The Irish Washerwoman"?
(In Cork one night, I tell the truth,
caused a fightin' fuss
When Paddy said "Yon man's no Scot,
He must be
one of us")
He plays a jig sae liltin' sir,
A man condemned tae
Wad loup the thirteen steps an' dance
Upon a gallow's tree.
An' fan a sweet sad bow he draws
In some auld plaintive air,
sorrows o' a lifetime come
An' stoun' the senses there.
Plaid" or "Gow's "Lament",
Baith hymns tae mak us mourn
frae oot yet greater hearts
For joys will ne'er return.
and white these printer notes
Lie lost of what they seek,
aloud in haunting sound
When Angus maks them speak.
kens nae brawer tunes,
And min' she maks them well,
Than when oor
Angus plays tae her
The yins he wrote himsel'.
His repertoire's an
And were he ay sae clever
As nae need food or drink or
He could play on forever
Here's tae him then my prayer shall
That happy he may dwell
And a' the wishes I wad gie
could wish himself
Three score and more - I ken his age -
if it's nae trouble,
In years tae come - Ye ken the sum -
him,mair than double
An' when at last at Heaven's gate
will surely stand
I like to fancy Peter say
As he hauds oot his hand -
"A welcome Angus Fitchet here
My pleasure is to gie ye,
that welcome since I see
Ye've brocht your fiddle wi ye.
there's years o' music yet
Tae stir the dancers roon,
Sae Angus rosin
up your bow
An gie's another tune.
The hame-spun garb o' native
Wi' cloth of gold we'll stitch it
And lay the makkar's mantle on
This man ca'd Angus Fitchet.
When he comes ben care hugs the wa'
An' joy jinks in the middle
The doul's awa, the dance is a',
Fitchet plays his fiddle
Mak a' his 'oors be sweet and sure
happy a' his days,
As happy as I am myself
When Angus Fitchet plays.