The traditional music of Scotland was preserved in the 1960s and '70s by the Corries, a duo featuring multi-instrumentalists, songwriters, and vocalists Roy Williamson and Ronnie Browne. Although they primarily focused on traditional folk songs, the Corries are best remembered for their original songs, "Flower of Scotland" by Williamson -- which has gone on to become Scotland's unofficial anthem -- and Browne's "The Roses of Prince Charles."
The Corries originated with a trio that Williamson and Browne formed with Bill Smith at Edinburgh College of Art in 1962. The group was expanded the following year with the addition of female singer Paddie Bell. Although they released three albums -- The Corrie Folk Trio with Paddie Bell, The Promise of the Day, and In Retrospect -- the quartet format was short-lived. Bell left the group to have a child in 1965 and Smith followed a year later. With the departure of Bell and Smith the following year, Browne and Williamson continued to perform as a duo and the group's name was shortened to the Corries.
Beginning in 1970, the Corries began using the cambolim, a pair of instruments designed and built by Williamson. While Williamson's instrument featured a basic guitar fingerboard with a bandurria attached and sympathetic resonating strings, Browne's model added a mandolin and four bass strings to a a basic guitar.
Browne and Williamson became regular performers on Scottish television shows and movies. In 1983, they received an International Film and Television Festival gold award for their STV series, The Corries & Other Folk. The duo reached its their peak with the film, The Bruce, which featured Browne's rendition of "Flower of Scotland" at the end of the movie. Browne appeared in the film in the role of Maxwell the Minstrel.
Williamson and Browne's collaboration ended with Williamson's death of a brain tumor in 1990. Browne has continued to perform and record as a soloist. ~ Craig Harris