William Love was born in the “Fountain” area of Londonderry in 1908. His father, who played the Piccolo in the Hamilton Flute Band, was killed in action on 19th November 1916.
William attended the Cathedral School and worshipped in St. Columb’s Cathedral near his home. He was a baker by trade, working first in a little Home Bakery just outside the ancient walled city and later in the well-known ABC (Abercorn Bakery Co.). In his early years he was an F Flute player with the “Maiden City” Flute Band. Some of William’s contemporaries can remember him taking the baton to conduct the Band from the top of a large packing case, while a horse ate contently in an adjoining stall. William was in those early days known affectionately as “Cowboy” Love, not because of any wildness of character, but on account of his love for the then popular “Cowboy” films.
Around 1935 he played in the Churchill Flute Band where his special friend was “Artie” (Arthur) Wray who later joined the Band of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. In those pre-war days he taught Steelstown Band for several years and seems to have been associated with Thiepval Accordion Band for a time. His accomplishments also included playing the Euphonium in the Brass Band of the Ulster Special Constabulary.
In his early years of arranging and composing music he often sought the advice of Johnny Wright who was Bandmaster of the local Salvation Army Brass Band.
Later on he had a close musical friendship with John Murdie of Argyle Temperance Flute Band in Belfast, in whose honour he dedicated his march “The Good Companion”.
After World War II he became linked with the Hamilton Flute Band and his first really well known march “Moore Street” was named after the street where their Band Hall was then situated. This march was one of several played by the massed bands of “Churchill, “Hamilton” and “No Surrender” at a rally and fireworks display in the Waterside in the autumn of 1948.
During the 1950s and early 1960s he became a prolific composer and arranger of Marches, Sacred Music, Waltzes and Jigs. These were often tried out first in his own home by himself and Joe Hawthorn, another close friend from their early days together in the “Maiden City” Band.
The completed compositions were often taken to the Hamilton Band Hall where Tommy Wright and the boys gave them their first full performance. Naturally the composer was excited and thrilled to hear the rewarding sound of his own compositions blended in perfect harmony. These compositions include, “Senior Service”, “Step in Style”, “Hale and Hearty”, “Cross and Crown” and many others.
He married in 1938 and took up residence in Mitchelburne Terrace on Foyle Road, Londonderry, from where his music was distributed all over the world. William Love has contributed more to the Flute Band world than any contempory Ulsterman. His epitaph is worthily written in the crotchets and quavers of his many ear-pleasing compositions.