Dougie MacLean is considered by many (and not just those on the Celtic/Folk music scene) to be Scotland's pre-eminent singer-songwriter. He is certainly one of the country's greatest musical treasures, in spite of being labelled a "Scottish James Taylor", a description FirstFoot believes to be an injustice to the uniqueness of MacLean's haunting and emotion-filled sound.
Born in Perthshire in1954, the son of a gardener, Dougie was surrounded by a love of music from an early age. His mother played the mandolin and his father played the fiddle.
His songs are unashamedly about his love of the land and rural traditions. They are at once contemporary and timeless. Written from the heart, they are pure Scotland wrapped up in music.
During the 70's and early 80's Dougie developed his Celtic musical roots as a member of Scotland's leading Celtic bands, the Tannahill Weavers and Silly Wizard.
Concentrating on his solo work, he set up his own record label, Dunkeld Records, in 1983 and in that same year released the first of many albums, "Craigie Dhu", to great critical acclaim.
Frankie Miller had a Scottish No. 1 with Caledonia
Undoubtedly his best known song, Caledonia" went to No 1 in the Scottish Music Charts when it was covered by Frankie Miller in 1992 and it has since become something of an unofficial national anthem.
Like Big Country's "One Great Thing" before it, the popular success of "Caledonia" came directly off the back of a TV commercial for Tennent's Lager, in which context Frankie Miller's rendition was first aired.
The original, however, recorded by Dougie in 1983, knocks the Frankie Miller cover version into a cocked hat and if you've never heard it, buy it now or find someone who has. It's enough to make any Scot, ex-pats in particular, weep into their beer. Powerful, emotional stuff.
International recognition came in 1993 when he was the recipient of a gold record for his two songs featured on the "Last of the Mohicans" movie soundtrack.
Perhaps one of Dougie's biggest fans is the American Grammy Award-winning country singer, Kathy Mattea, with whom he has performed and for whom he has co-produced albums and provided songs. Their friendship and close musical association was highlighted in a 1997 BBC documentary, "Songroads - A musical friendship from Nashville to Dunkeld."
He remains nothing if not busy, recording, touring and writing new material for himself, for other artists and for film and TV soundtracks. He is also a leading advocate for Scottish independence.
Dougie MacLean in concert
Another of his ventures is "MacLeans Real Music Bar" at the "Taybank" on the banks of the river Tay in Dunkeld. It has now become an established meeting place for spontaneous music sessions and attracts performers and listeners alike from all over the world.
Drop in for a pint or a wee dram next time you're passing. But, please, don't ask the bar staff if they're on the fiddle - they've heard it all before.
DOUGIE MacLEAN TRIVIA FOOTNOTE
The rave/dance clubs of Europe are an unlikely place in which to come across a Dougie MacLean fiddle tune, but the release in 1999 of a techno/dance version of "The Gael" changed all that. Recorded in Germany, it went into the Top Ten of the Spanish and German Dance Charts and was played in clubs all around the continent from Ibiza to Faliraki.