Ronald E. J. Milne

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Capt Ron Milne - While in the Black Watch

Capt. Ronald Edwin James "Ronnie" Milne (April 11, 1921 – February 9, 2014) was a singer and band director. He was also a composer and musical arranger who is known for his band arrangements and original compositions. He spent his formative years and the first years of his career in the United Kingdom. He subsequently auditioned to join the Canadian Army as a musician, was accepted in the rank of sergeant, and immigrated to Canada in 1953.


He left school in 1935 at age 14 and, along with his older brother Douglas, joined a juvenile Band and toured Britain for several years. In 1939 he enlisted in the Welsh Guards Band despite Scottish heritage. In 1942 he won 1st prize for a Jazz Composition at the Professional "Jazz Jamboree" for his composition "October Mood" which he now confesses he rather dislikes. He came to prominence in 1949 when he co-founded, in conjunction with Cliff Adams, Dick James, and others, the vocal group the Stargazers, which quite quickly came to enjoy considerable commercial success.[1][2] The group appeared on such BBC Radio programmes as Workers' Playtime, and its fans included Queen Elizabeth II.[3] Milne not only sang but also contributed arrangements. He came from a family of musicians (his father played at one point in the orchestra of the Paris Opera) and he was himself a skilled viola player. For a time he played viola in the London Symphony Orchestra.

Quoting from the Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo 1967 LP jacket, "Captain R. E. J. Milne, director of music of the Canadian Guards band, emigrated to Canada in 1953 after a distinguished musical career in his native Britain. He was playing in bands at age 14, studied at the Royal College of Music in London and played viola in the London Symphony Orchestra. Venturing into more popular forms of music after winning first prize in a jazz-writing competition, he arranged during the 1940s for Britain's big bands - Stanley Black, Geraldo, George Melachrino - and was staff arranger for the Ted Heath Orchestra. Captain Milne also played trumpet in big bands, formed and sang in a vocal group and worked extensively in radio and television in Britain."

In Canada, he pursued for many years a military career, eventually becoming commissioned as a director of music and known as an arranger of music for band. His Auprès de ma blonde continues to be played by many wind ensembles.[4][5] On the side, he continued to arrange and perform popular music in a non-military context. After retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces with the rank of Captain he took up another career as a teacher of string instruments at Nepean High School in Ottawa. He died at age 92 in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 9, 2014.

The high point of his military career was arguably the Tattoo[6] that took place in 1967 to mark the centenary of the creation of Canada. He was in charge of the music for this event, which concluded with a performance of his Marche Vanier, a work dedicated to George Vanier, the Governor General who had died just months before.[7]


  1. ^ "The Stargazers Biography". Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  2. ^ "The Stargazers". Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  3. ^ "Concert Band Plays Tribute to Retired Captain". Archived from the original on 2013-12-15. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  4. ^ "Fanfare Reviews from March/April 1989". Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  5. ^ "A Lakeshore Concert". Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  6. ^ "Military Will Stage Giant Roadshow". The Ottawa Citizen. 1966-01-24. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  7. ^ "Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo 1967". 1967. Retrieved 2012-05-10.