Sir Jimmy Shand
When Jimmy Shand died aged 92 in December 2000, it was marked with the respect of a national treasure. The former miner from Fife went on to become a phenomenally successful star, recording hundreds of records from 1933 up till the 1990s. Millions of people around the world danced to the sound of Shand and, although he was personally a shy man (he once said "I never was meant to be an entertainer"), his reputation and influence shouted for themselves. He was, in my opinion, one of Scotland's greatest traditional musicians.
Jimmy's first musical instrument was the moothie or mouth organ, before his father, himself a skilled melodeon player, taught him to play at an early age, and when the 14-year old had to leave school to go down the mineshafts, he played his melodeon at social events, weddings, and competitions. In his mid-twenties, Jimmy started a job in a music shop in Dundee and switched to the chromatic button-key accordion, the instrument he stuck with for the rest of his life.
Shortly after starting work in the shop Jimmy recorded two 78rpm records for the Regal Zonophone label in 1933. It was when he recorded for the Beltona label in about 1935, however, that his lifelong recording career really began. Most of the Beltona 78s are solo records, but he experimented with small bands, and as Jimmy Shand and his Band his popularity soared.
Shand has a peculiar relationship with the folk and modern traditional music scene, who abhor the "tartan and heather" presentation of the music. He was an oustanding traditional musician nevertheless, as his early records prove. It is perhaps unfortunate that his skill was muted within the confines of a standard Scottish dance band, but his skill is evident. I think he will be remembered long after many others have been forgotten.