Founder and frontman of The Red Hot Chilli Pipers and the phenomenon of Bagrock, bagpipe rock-star Stuart Cassells (32) has left the band. After nearly 10 years since forming the band, Stuart has decided it is time to step down from Bagrocking stages to pursue his other goals and opportunities.

Always a natural showman, Stuart was the recipient of The BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2005 and was the first person to gain a degree in bagpipes from The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.He went on to record with rock group The Darkness for their second album ‘One Way Ticket to Hell and Back’ and for the Harry Potter film ‘Goblet of Fire’.

Phil Collins commented on his piping: “I must say that I am one of those people who find the sound of Bagpipes exciting, invigorating and inspiring. So when Stuart’s CD starts there is an emotion, energy. This recurs time after time with memories of the early Who, believe it or not. His pipes are like the open string Rickenbacker of Pete Townshend. Not much between them”  Phil Collins

Despite achieving much success in traditional bagpipe competitions, Stuart got greater pleasure and satisfaction from entertaining with the bagpipes and soon found himself in great demand all over the world performing at a variety of functions and engagements. It was in 2002 whilst a student at the RSAMD, Stuart thought that there was a demand for a new, modern bagpipe group that could take the bagpipes to a wider audience by putting on show and taking the formality away from bagpipes.

For the last two years, Stuart has been suffering with the condition called ‘Focal Dystonia’ also known as Musicians’s or writer’s cramp. This has meant he has had to have various different treatments to allow him to perform to his high standard, including Botox injections into the arm. He is hoping his time away from performing will allow him to fully focus on recovering from focal dystonia and he can rejoin the band for a few special gigs in the future.

‘Focal Dystonia’ is a neurological movement disorder that affects about 1 in every 200 musicians and it prevents musicians from using the fine motor control required to play their instrument, resulting in cramps and abnormal postures. As well as musicians, the condition can also affect others who perform high precision hand movements such as surgeons and artists. Research is being carried out but at the moment there is no cure.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have been ‘Rockin all over the World’ from New York to Beijing playing to huge festivals and packed venues. The band found fame after winning the BBC One Saturday Night television Talent show ‘When Will I be Famous’ and the band was named ‘Live Act of the Year’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards in 2007 and 2010. Their four CDs, which Stuart co-produced, have sold over 250,000 copies combined.

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