Brian McNeill was born in Falkirk, Scotland, in 1950. He began his musical training in his early teens with violin lessons, but soon forsook that instrument for the electric guitar. A comprehensive musical education and a mildly misspent youth were the result - until his student years brought him to Celtic music. He knew immediately that this was a music he had to play and as a direct consequence, in 1969 he picked up his fiddle again and formed The Battlefield Band, which has since become one of Scotland's best-known ensembles.
Brian plays fiddle, viola, mandolin, cittern, bouzouki, guitar, concertina, bass and hurdy-gurdy, and the importance of his songwriting mostly about Scotland's past and future has long been recognised. The Yew Tree, The Lads O' The Fair, Montrose and The Snows Of France And Holland were among the best-loved of Battlefield Band's repertoire, and The Devil's Only Daughter won Britain's prestigious National Songsearch competition in 1987.
In 1990 recognition also came in the USA, with the Texas Celtic Music Award for The Rovin' Dies Hard, and since then new compositions such as Strong Women Rule Us All With Their Tears, Any Mick'll Do and No Gods And Precious Few Heroes have established him as one of Scotland's leading songwriters.
1989 saw the publication of Brian's first novel, The Busker, and a year later Brian left Battlefield Band to concentrate more on writing and solo projects. In the last few years he has toured extensively with the eight-strong Scottish "supergroup" Clan Alba, with his old friend Iain MacKintosh, with the Scottish-Irish line-up of Kavana, McNeill, Lynch and Lupari and with Ireland's Martin Hayes and Nova Scotia's Natalie MacMaster in the highly rated US Celtic Fiddle Festival series.
His own audio-visual show about Scottish emigration to America, The Back O' The North Wind has also won critical acclaim and his continuing connection with America's Lone Star State led to him being created an honorary Texan in 1999 by the then Governer George W Bush . Brian's second novel 'To Answer The Peacock' was published that same year by Black Ace Books in Scotland , along with a fiddle album and tune book of the same name.
In much demand as a live solo performer -due not least to the critical success of his latest albums - Brian is currently touring solo and working with Dick Gaughan.
His production skills are also in increasing demand and his name can be found on albums by many of the Celtic scene's most important artistes , among them Eric Bogle, Davey Arthur , Jock Duncan , Ed Miller , Heather Heywood and Tony McManus.
The success of the landmark Scots Women concert at Celtic Connections 2001 , of which he was musical director and his recent appointment as Head of Scottish Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow have reinforced Brian's position as one of today's great forces in Scotland's music.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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