6 American icons and their lesser-known visits to Scotland

Actor and comedian John Belushi took a break near Wick at the height of the Blues Brothers craze in the summer of 1980. Here is is pictured with local boy Colin Bruce. PIC: Contributed.
Actor and comedian John Belushi took a break near Wick at the height of the Blues Brothers craze in the summer of 1980. Here is is pictured with local boy Colin Bruce. PIC: Contributed.
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As Barack Obama soaks up a warm Scottish welcome, here we look at six more American icons who have made lesser-known trips to the four corners of the country.

JOHN BELUSHI

American singers Johnny Cash and Andy Williams in Fife for a concert at Falkland Palace  in October 1981. PIC:TSPL.

American singers Johnny Cash and Andy Williams in Fife for a concert at Falkland Palace in October 1981. PIC:TSPL.

Comedian and actor John Belushi was at the height of his Blues Brothers fame when he hid out at Freswick Castle near John O’Groats.

Despite the Blue Brothers film smashing the box office on its opening in the United States, Belushi remained little known in the far north during the summer of 1980.

READ MORE: Six great and lesser-known Americans with Scottish roots

The Holywood star mingled with the locals, went fishing for mackerel and bought a new set of hats from a shop in Wick during his stay.

US Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong receives the Freedom of the Burgh at Langholm in the Borders in  March 1972. PIC: TSPL.

US Apollo astronaut Neil Armstrong receives the Freedom of the Burgh at Langholm in the Borders in March 1972. PIC: TSPL.

Jimmy Bruce, then a lorry driver with Highland Regional Council, had been asked by a friend - the local undertaker - to chauffeur Belushi and his wife Judy while they stayed in the area.

Bruce’s son Colin, completely unaware of his fame, was to drive around with Belushi during his stay - and was even gifted his loaded Walkman before departing from Wick Airport.

RONALD REAGAN

Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy visited Castlehead Church in Paisley in 1991 after the former Republican president received a letter from the minister telling him of his Scottish roots.

Michael Jackson visited Scotland in 1997 to search for a castle for his family. PIC: Contributed.

Michael Jackson visited Scotland in 1997 to search for a castle for his family. PIC: Contributed.

The US President’s great-great-grandfather, Claud Wilson, wed Peggy Downie - both children of weavers - in the kirk in 1807 with some of Reagan’s relatives buried in the churchyard.

During their visit, the couple received a painting of the church with Reagan claiming it would be given pride of place in his home.

JOHNNY CASH

Cash visited Fife in 1981 after learning of his Scottish roots on a transatlantic flight.

He had been sitting next to Major Michael Crichton-Stuart, whose family seat was Falkland Palace, when he learned of the prevalence of the surname Cash in the area.

The name Cash in Fife can be traced back to the 13th Century with palace records showing that a William Cash sailed from Scotland to Salem, Massachusetts, with a boatload of pilgrims in 1612.

In a search for his roots, Cash visited Fife just a few months following the death of his father and said it had been a truly emotional trip.

Such was Johnny’s fascination with the land of his forefathers he arranged to play a special televised concert at Falkland Palace during his stay.

He was joined for the show by another American musical legend, Andy Williams, and the two happily posed for pictures and chatted with locals before the performance.

NEIL ARMSTRONG

In 1972, less than three years after his historic moon landing, Neil Armstrong was piped into Langholm in the Scottish Borders to receive the freedom of the town.

Armstrong’s father’s ancestors were traced to the area with the family moving to County Fermanagh in the early 17th Century during the Plantation of Ulster.

Around 8,000 people lined the street to see Armstrong arriving in Langholm by horse and carriage ahead of the ceremony, to which he wore an Armstrong kilt.

During the service, he said: “The most difficult place to be recognised is in one’s home town. From today, I consider this to be my home town.”

A piper from the Borders was invited to play at a Washington memorial service for the astronaut, who was born on a farm in Ohio, following his death in August 2012.

READ MORE: The Highlanders who helped to build America

MICHAEL JACKSON

Wacko Jacko flew into Scotland in January 1997 wanting to buy a Highland castle for his family.

The singer, who stayed at Cameron House Hotel at Loch Lomond, travelled with extensive security - including a decoy look-alike dressed in red jacket, black hat and full make-up.

Jackson told a reporter: “The people here are beautiful. Scotland is a really beautiful place. I love it. The people are so nice to me. I really want to live here. I want to have my family here.”

His former nurse and wife Debbie Rowe was pregnant with their first child, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, at the time.

“I can’t wait to have a family. I’d like him to be brought up in Scotland in the good clean air. We could be really happy here,” Jackson, who died of an anaesthetic overdose in 2009, said.

KANYE WEST

The arrival of global superstar rapper Kanye West to Skye last year left journalists on the island rather under whelmed with his stay reported simply as “American Man Visits Skye.”

West, who was on the island to shoot a new music video, was noted in the West Highland Free Press as someone “known for his hip-hop, his outspoken opinions and his marriage to ‘a woman who gained notoriety for a sex tape.’

The report did, however, describe him as the “perfect guest” at the hotel where he stayed with the rapper welcome back any time.

Paul Wood, managing director of West Highland Free Press, later tweeted that “when a Kanye visit to Skye fixes broadband, phone signals, pot holes and a direct air link, we’ll be all over it.”