Born: February 3, 1935;

Died August 24, 2021.

BOBBY HARVEY, who has died aged 86, was a fiddler, a barber, property developer and band-leader who commanded a legion of loyal friends and fans.

His career highlights are almost too many to relate. Not only was he hired to play fiddle tunes for Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grappelli, he also toured America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand with the White Heather Club alongside the likes of Calum Kennedy, Andy Stewart, Mary Lee and Francie and Josie.

Bobby played solo spots to full houses in the Royal Albert Hall and the Carnegie Hall, New York – a musical feat achieved by few.

He joined Alasdair Gillies on the TV show Fireside Ceilidh, starred in the Lex McLean Show at the Pavilion Theatre, Glasgow, for several seasons, and was also a regular on STV’s Thingyummyjig.

However, it was when Bobby teamed up with Scottish accordion champion Ivor Britton that he was at his happiest. He loved the synergy and camaraderie of a band. Bobby and Ivor were joined by Big Tam on drums and Big Al (and, latterly, Jimmy Muir) on piano.

With Bob McKechnie and Mhairi McArthur singing, and the Covenanters troupe dancing, they had a highly successful Scottish show that toured the Clyde coast and beyond for decades, including the Queen’s Hall in Dunoon, Rothesay Pavilion and Barrfields Theatre in Largs.

Bobby’s band also had the resident gig in the Gleneagles Hotel for 24 years. He played for many famous people, including Princess Anne and Jack Nicklaus. The latter booked Bobby to play at his birthday part in St Andrews. A proud moment came when Bobby posed alongside his golfing hero – only to discover there was no film in the camera.

Born on February 3, 1935, in a Milngavie tenement, Bobby was the only child of barber Robert and Jean Harvey. He was clever at school and a “wee rascal” rolled into one. As a youngster, he reluctantly attended fiddle lessons but, within weeks, was busking for money in Milngavie precinct and soon reckoned this music thing might just work out.

After a spell at Bearsden Academy, he was forced to leave to work in his father’s barber shop in Milngavie because of a staff shortage. There, he made lifelong friends with his fellow barbers including wee Jimmy, Charlie and John.

Bobby served his military service in RAF Compton Bassett, Wiltshire, where he trained to become a signalman. He asked to be based in Scotland so he could keep playing his fiddle and play golf but, in 1954, aged 19, he was posted to Egypt, then Malta, and then Cyprus, where he entertained the troops in a variety of bands. He played violin for the operatic society and was a star winger in the RAF football team.

When he returned to Scotland, his fiddle-playing stepped up a gear and in 1962 and 1963 he was crowned Scottish Fiddle Champion. He decided the time was right to give showbusiness a go with all his energy and unbridled enthusiasm.

In 1958 he met the love of his life, Cathie Symington, at a dance in Overnewton Hall in Partick, Glasgow, while gigging with the Iain MacDonald Ceilidh Band from Easdale.

Bobby fancied Cathie straight away. His chat-up line was: “Dae ye want an orange?” Cathie and her friend thought he had a bag of fruit with him. He meant an orange juice. After the gig they walked to a cafe where they shared one orange juice. Bobby had to get the bus back to Milngavie because money was tight.

Their first proper date was a picnic on the shore at Dunoon. They were engaged on Christmas Day in 1958 and were married on October 22, 1959, in Knightswood (a Tuesday, as that was the barber shop’s half-day and he was made to work in the morning).

They remained married for 52 years until Cathie died in February 2012. For sticking with him that long even Bobby admitted she deserved a medal.

They had two children – Cat, a journalist who became a well-known radio presenter, and Scott, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a ceilidh musician.

Bobby loved music, football – especially his beloved Partick Thistle and Scotland – and regular trips down the Clyde coast on the Waverley. A Burns’ Supper regular, he played the annual celebration at Haggs Castle Golf Club for three decades.

He fought alcohol addiction for years and, with the help of his family, conquered it in 1983 and never looked back. To keep busy, he trained as an official Blue Badge Scottish Tour Guide, dazzling tourists with questionable patter and a tune on the fiddle right up until he was 84.

Bus drivers fought over who would secure his guiding services, better tips being guaranteed because visitors got both tour and impromptu concert. He was often seen playing Scottish tunes on his fiddle in the car-park at the top of the Rest And Be Thankful to enthralled American tourists.

He chaired the Milngavie Traders’ Association, taking on the local council to improve conditions for retailers. He was made an honorary member of Glasgow Highland Club in recognition for playing their annual ball for 42 years.

Never one for retirement, it was no surprise when Bobby became an internet sensation aged 85. His doorstep fiddle-playing sessions during lockdown’s “clap for carers” were shared on social media by neighbour Iain Laverie. Over six weeks, more than two million people watched his sets. The tunes were so popular he featured in newspapers and as the “and finally” story on STV News.

At his funeral he was summed up as “the energetic enigma” – few who knew Bobby well would disagree. Rarely has the phrase “a life well lived” been more appropriate.

Bobby requested that some of his ashes be formed into fireworks and on Hogmanay his family will honour that final wish with a display in his memory off the beach at Easdale, his favourite holiday haunt for many decades.

Bobby passed away peacefully after fighting prostate cancer with endless energy, defying the doctors’ prognosis time after time.

He is survived by Cat, Scott, daughter-in-law Ann and two grand-daughters, Kirsteen and Jessica.