Sir Jimmy Shand
The Early Years
Jimmy Shand, son of a ploughman turned miner, was born on 28th January 1908, the sixth of nine children. Born into a musical family, he started playing the mouth organ, soon moving on to the fiddle. Working down the mines from the age of 14, his only chance to play music was at social events and competitions although his love of motor cycles meant that he could travel to events all over Fife. In 1926, having played at a benefit event for striking miners, he was no longer allowed to continue to work as a miner.
Visiting Dundee with a friend in 1933, they looked at accordions in a shop selling musical instruments and Jimmy tried one out. The shop owner was so impressed he offered Jimmy a job as a salesperson and soon, to his delight, he was travelling all over Scotland in a van.
Career Takes Off
At one point he failed a BBC audition for keeping time with his foot, but nevertheless his career took off and in 1935 he started making records with the Beltone label. These were mainly solo, but he also started to experiment with small bands.
Jimmy and his wife Anne married in 1936 and had two sons. Having been advised to move to the country for the sake of his younger son's health, the family settled in Auchtermuchty.
He chose to switch to chromatic button key accordians but, being dissatisfied with what was available on the market, he designed his own in 1940 and the Hohner company manufactured Shand Morino accordians until 1972.
During the war, a health issue prevented Jimmy from being accepted into the forces so he worked in the Fire Service. Continuing to play music, he formed a small dance band.
More than 330 Compositions
On January 1st 1945 Jimmy Shand and his band made the first of many broadcasts for the BBC and after this he became a full-time musician and travelled the world playing to audiences from Inverness to New York, Canada to Australia.
Now recording on the EMI label, he released many singles in the 1950s, achieving a top 20 hit in 1955 with his Bluebell Polka. More than 330 compositions are credited to Jimmy Shand, and he is believed to have recorded more tracks that the Beatles and Elvis combined!
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Jimmy Shand was awarded an MBE in 1962, he was created Freeman of Auchtermuchty in 1974, Freeman of North East Fife in 1998 and, having received a Knighthood in 1999, became Sir Jimmy Shand.
Sir Jimmy Shand's portrait hangs in the Scottish National Gallery and a much visited Bronze sculpture has been erected in Auchtermuchty to his memory.