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Famous Scots - Jimmy Shand Sir M.b.e. M.a.

Sir James Shand MBE was a Scottish musician

A true hero of Scottish music must be the late great Jimmy Shand. A button accordion player of consumate skill, an amazing traditional musician, and the best known, most popular Scottish musician ever. Jimmy Shand was a totally natural musician, completely self taught, and reached the top of his profession as a result of his popularity and the respect he gained from the general public, fellow musicians and programme makers. The Jimmy Shand discography is one to be envied by all in Scottish music.

For well over 50 years the name “Jimmy Shand and his Band” was linked with Scottish dance music, and during the sixties vast audiences tuned in to watch him play his reels jigs and polkas on BBC Television's hugely popular programme, The White Heather Club.

Born in East Weymss, Fife in 1908, Jimmy Shand’s earliest job at 14, was working in the coal mines. After the General Strike in 1926 he started working for the Fife Power Company earning enough money to buy the first of his many motor bikes.  He had learned to play the melodeon as a boy and performed at social events and weddings. He was offered a job in Forbes Music shop in Dundee after the owner heard him play and it was at this time that he changed over to the button-key accordion, the instrument he was to play for the rest of his life. Jimmy recorded two 78rpm records for the Regal Zonophone label in 1933 but when he began making records for the Beltona label in about 1935, his lifelong recording career spanning hundreds of releases really began.

During the Second World War, Jimmy Shand became a fireman, but in his spare time played the accordion in a small dance band. After the war, he formed his own ensemble and continued to broadcast on the Scottish Home Service and record familiar titles like My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose, I Belong to Glasgow and The Gay Gordons, as well as a series entitled Scottish Country Dances in Strict Tempo. He brought traffic to a standstill during an open-air concert that attracted 20,000 people in Aberdeen in the 1950s. In the mid-fifties he began working with producer George Martin, which led in 1955 to the hit single The Bluebell Polka which reached number 20 in the charts and got him invited on to television programme Top Of The Pops. Jim Johnstone, who was a member of Jimmy's band wrote "I toured Australia and New Zealand with the band, which was a revelation to me.  I knew from childhood that Jimmy Shand was a household name but was totally unprepared for the reception we got in these countries.  We played in stadiums in Melbourne and Sydney to literally thousands of people.  He would open the show with “Bonnie Dundee” to a cheer something akin to the famous “Hamden Roar” and I can honestly say that on more than one occasion I was overcome with emotion." 

He was the popular subject of a "This Is Your Life" programme in 1978. Over the years Jimmy Shand entertained at many private parties and balls and was a favourite of the Queen and Queen Mother. Despite his fame, he remained a modest man happy to be at home in Fife with Anne who was to be his wife for more than 60 years. Ill health forced his retirement in 1972 but his popularity remained high and he continued to record up until the 1990s. He was appointed MBE in 1962, and knighted in 1999 for his service to Scottish culture. Such was his fame that several pubs, a train, and at least one racehorse were named after him.

Jimmy Shand died in December 2000 aged 92 and one of the many tributes paid to him came from broadcaster Robbie Shepherd who said "I place Jimmy alongside Niel Gow as the two main influences in the history of Scottish Dance Music."

Headstone Photograph

Further Information

Title: SIR M.B.E. M.A.

Firstname: JIMMY

LastName: SHAND

Date of Death: 23rd Dec 2000

Age at Death: 92

Cemetery: Auchtermuchty cemetery

  Station Road


Town: Cupar

PostCode: KY14 7DP

Region: The kingdom of Fife

Country: Scotland


Please Note, the marker on this map indicates the Cemetery location, not the location of a particular grave. is a privately owned website with no affiliation to any Local Councils.