John H. Rosenberger and his father Karl R. Rosenberger formed the Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band in 1946. The band was originally the San Diego County Pipe Band and because of the alliance with Clan Cameron of the Order of Scottish Clans, the name was changed to the Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band. It is now the oldest continually performing pipe band in California and is one of the oldest in the United States.
The Cameron Highlanders is now under the leadership of John’s son, Pipe Major Charles R. Rosenberger who has led the competition band since 1970. He is a well respected player throughout the Western United States and has been on the W.U.S.P.B.A judges list for over 35 years. John’s other son Malcolm, led the drum section up until November 2006 at which time he moved from the area. The drum section is now under the leadership of Drum Sergeant Aaron Mars.
Charles learned to play the pipes from his father at the age of seven and was competing at the age of nine. He became the Pipe Major of the Cameron Cadets Pipe Band as seen above in 1959. He won his first prize at the age of ten in the novice class at Petaluma and a second place at Santa Monica. He was moved to the Amateur grade at age ten and won his first aggregate championship at San Diego when he was twelve. He gathered dozens of other prizes and championships over the next seven years including the coveted James McColl trophy for Ceol Mor at Santa Monica. He also took instruction from the late Capt. John B. McClellan. Charles entered the open class at nineteen and collected many more prizes before retiring from the individual ranks to concentrate on the band and other personal endeavors.
The band originally wore the Cameron of Erracht tartan, which was the same tartan worn by the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders regiment. In 1956, the Camerons of San Diego were officially recognized by the Queen and were given the privilege of wearing the regimental insignia and buttons.
The uniform of the band at that time was the kilt, full plaid, hair sporrans, glenngaries, and military white jackets with Cameron collar badges and the round Queens Own buttons. Later, dark green doublets with gold trim and feather bonnets were added for formal or evening occasions. These uniforms were those worn when the band performed for The Prince of Wales when he visited San Diego during his tour of duty aboard the H.M.S. Jupiter and also several years later when Queen Elizabeth made a visit to San Diego.
The uniforms went through another change in the 70’s when it was decided to change the kilt to the Cameron of Erracht old colors. In addition, the full plaids were dropped, as were the feather bonnets.
The band now wears the Ancient Cameron kilts with black fur sporrans, black “Prince Charlie” jackets, and black glenngaries. This uniform is much more adaptable to the warm Southern California climate and gives the band a very formal appearance. In parades and on warmer days the band wears grey short sleeved shirts.
The Cameron Highlanders have been performing over the last fifty-five years and have been competing with fair regularity since the late 1950’s. They were one of the original founding members of the Pacific Coast Pipe Band Association, now the Western United States Pipe Band Association. The band first competed as a “B” band and in the 1970’s entered the “A” band ranks. The band did well during these years but dropped out of the competition scene for about five years in the mid seventies. During that time, the P.C.P.B.A. reoriented the association, creating Grade I, II, III, and IV bands to better align the West Coast with Scotland. At that time, the Camerons were placed in grade III. Since that time, the band has always been among the prizewinners and has won numerous championships, including the WUSPBA championships at Reno in 1996. After a sabbatical from the competition field for the 1999 season, the band returned in 2000 to finish 2nd in the WUSPBA standings. For the next several years, the band has perpetually placed in the top three bands in Grade III.
In 2005, several of the key members of the band left for other endeavors and the Cameron Grade III band temporarily dissolved. The band fielded a Grade IV band at only one competion in 2005, and has begun a rebuilding process. Charlie worked as an instructor for the band for one season and then took over the position of Pipe Major to help move the Grade IV in the winning direction. During the first year under his leadership the band moved up the prize winners list culminating the season with a 1st and 4th place finish at the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura. Since then the band has been finished every competion in the top four of it’s grade including numerous 1st and 2nd place finishes.
In 2010 the Cameron’s formed a Grade V band and over the past 3 seasons they have placed at every competition culminating in winning the Grade V WUSPBA championship for 2013.
This year, the Cameron’s re-entered a band in Grade III and have already been on the prize list for 2014, finishing 3rd in the MSR at their first contest at the Queen Mary Highland Games in Long Beach.
This year, the Cameron’s will field a Grade III, Grade IV and Grade V band in competition.
The Cameron Highlanders also has a championship highland dancing corps lead for over 30 years by “Head Dancer” Chrissy Ambler. Over the years, the Cameron dancers have accumulated hundreds of individual awards. Four of the band dancers of the past have won the Western U.S. championships. The current band dancers are all prizewinners. The dancers perform with the band at parades and other functions throughout the year.
In addition to competition, the band also performs at other functions including parades, parties, church services, and other public and private events. The full band membership currently consists of over sixty pipers, drummers and dancers. Membership is also open to non performing associate members that add another twenty five or more members to the roster.
The Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band is dedicated to furthering the art of Bagpipes, drums, dancing, and the Scottish culture and as a non-profit organization, free instruction is offered for prospective or interested pipers and drummers. Information about this can be obtained on our Instruction page.