1908 to 2000

Scottish Accordion Legend bows out.......

The world of Scottish Dance Music was saddened at news of the death of Jimmy Shand. Knighted in 1999 at a Ceremony in Edinburgh for his services to Scottish Music, Sir Jimmy passed away on 23rd December 2000 at the age of 92. The name Jimmy Shand will be remembered for generations and rightly so. No-one else in the twentieth century had a more pronounced influence in the world of Scottish Music throughout their lifetime.

Jimmy Shand came from a humble background. His father was a farm ploughman turned miner. One of nine children, Jimmy moved from East Wemyss to the village of Auchtermuchty, where he spent much of his life. Jimmy started his working life following his father's footsteps into the coal mining industry. With the advent of the General Strike throughout Britain in 1926, Jimmy (along with countless others) found himself unemployed.

One day, Jimmy and his friend were in Dundee, admiring the accordion display in the window of Forbes' Music Shop. Jimmy looked longingly at the instruments, knowing full well he couldn't afford to buy one. His friend said, "Maybe you canna buy but it wouldn't cost you anything to try one" so, they went in the shop and Jimmy strapped one on and began to play. The owner of the shop heard Jimmy play and immediately offered him a job.

It was through Forbes that Jimmy made his first recording in 1933. He first performed on BBC Radio in 1934. Things were going pretty well when in 1943, he signed a contract with EMI. This was to lead to Jimmy forming his Scottish Dance Band in 1945.

Jimmy not only played accordion - he had the Hohner company build a "button" model to his specification, which would produce a sound better suited to Scottish Dance Music than anything else the market could offer. This was the highly acclaimed "Shand Morino". He also played the melodion, mouth organ and fiddle.

Jimmy Shand and his Band were in the charts in 1953 playing "The Bluebell Polka", the one and only Scottish Dance Band to achieve chart success. During the 60's, they were also firm favourites on the BBC Scotland TV series "The White Heather Club", a show which also achieved worldwide acclaim on stage.

In 1962, Jimmy was awarded an M.B.E. Later, in 1985, he was awarded an Honorary M.A. Degree by Dundee University. Also in 1985, British Rail named a diesel - electric locomotive "Jimmy Shand".

His musical career spanned an astonishing 70 years, during which time millions of his albums were sold the world over. He also played in the highly esteemed Carnegie Hall in New York. Even in later life, Jimmy would work tirelessly for charity. Success, letters after the name - letters before the name - none of these things changed Jimmy Shand, the man. He was quite simply, a gentleman through and through.

Over the years, Jimmy composed in excess of three hundred tunes - each a timeless classic. They alone will ensure that Sir Jimmy Shand M.B.E.; M.A. will continue to do as he has always done - bring pleasure to people from all walks of life - from the most humble, right through to Royalty.

His funeral service in Auchtermuchty Church on 29th December 2000, had to be relayed from the packed Church to an annexe. Such was the attendance, that people also stood in the snow and biting cold outside to pay their last respects to the finest ambassador Scotland has known. It was a very moving experience, seeing the coffin laid out in rest as Jimmy's music played softly on tape. I have never seen so many feet tapping in a Church.

He leaves his wife Lady Anne Shand and sons Jimmy (Jnr) and David.

Stuart Thomson, Prestwick 29th December 2000

 


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