Tornado Hornpipe (The)
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'TORNADO HORNPIPE'. Canadian, Hornpipe. B Flat Major. Standard tuning. AABB. Composed by Sarnia, southwestern Ontario, fiddler John(ny) Durocher (1934-1989). According to the story told by Ron Ritchie (Fiddler Magazine, vol. 12, No. 2, Summer 2005; pg. 27), the tune was named for a severe tornado in 1951 in the Sarnia region. Don Messer, the influential radio fiddler, and his show had been booked to play at a dance pavilion on the shores of Lake Huron that day, and the storm made a mess of the outdoor venue. The show went on, however, with the floor being quickly swept clear, and although some danced around felled trees that night it was one of the largest crowds ever at the venue. Durocher, in attendance at the event, christened his tune the “Tornado.” John was born the youngest of sixteen children, to a modest family of few resources. He quit school in his young teens to help make family ends meet and remained a factory worker for most of his life, not even possessing a drivers license. John came to fiddling when he found a broken fiddle in the trash one day and asked the owner for permission to retrieve it; with some repair work he had his first instrument. A few lessons from a local teacher (which served to teach him how to read and write music), were all the formal music education John received. He was a prolific composer of fiddle tunes, however, and named them for sports and current events, family and friends and topics of his day, explains Ritchie. Durocher’s music was picked up by radio fiddler Don Messer, who included many of his tunes in his broadcasts and printed collections, helping Durocher to become quite influential in the Ontario scene for his compositions.