aJimmy Blue, Scottish

accordionist and bandleader; born September 3, 1929,

died December 7, 1999

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FORGANDENNY Village Church in Perthshire was packed for the funeral service of Jimmy Blue which was relayed to the further 200 standing outside in the pouring rain. Robbie Shepherd of BBC Scotland read a poem written by Andy Stewart for Jimmy some years ago, a most appropriate tribute, and Jimmy's wife, Joan, played the organ for the ceremony, concluding with The Dark Island, the haunting melody which he made known all over the world.

Born in Newton Mearns, Jimmy was six months old when his family moved to Rosneath Castle, where his father was a gardener for Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.

He left school at 13 to work on a hill farm at the Gareloch, while helping his father who was now a freelance gardener. Jimmy was 14 when he bought a piano accordion but, having heard the late Will Starr and seen Jimmy Shand on the British Chromatic, he quickly decided the ''button box'' was his instrument. He had no formal tuition, but watched and listened and even taught himself to read and write music.

In 1949 the family moved to Perthshire where Jimmy met piano-accordionist Mickie Ainsworth and, soon, as accordion duettists, they were broadcasting and making records. Jimmy was the first All Scotland Champion in Bill Wilkie's Accordion Festival in 1950. He regained the cup in 1952, the year in which he joined the famous Ian Powrie Band, turning professional in 1961 when the band joined Andy Stewart for his record-breaking

seasons in the Glasgow Empire.

When Powrie emigrated to Australia in 1966, Jimmy fulfilled another ambition by taking over the band under his own name, continuing to broadcast and making sev-eral LPs. Employment as Andy Stewart's backing band meant Jimmy toured the world, playing solo in the Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Stadium and Opera House.

The band took part in many television programmes such as The White Heather Club and Scotch Corner which went out nationwide. There were also memorable Hogmanay shows with Andy Stewart, Duncan Macrae, and John Grieve.

In 1969, the Jimmy Blue Band had a wonderful experience when they took part in the film Country Dance, starring Peter O'Toole, Susannah York, and Brian Blessed. The music was recorded at Shepperton Studios in London and filming was done in Co Wicklow.

A shy man, Jimmy did not seek the limelight and in spite of summer seasons in Aberdeen, Ayr, and Blackpool, his real joy was in playing for Scottish dancing in village halls throughout the land. He also enjoyed adjudicating at festivals and competitions, and was always most encouraging towards young players.

For 20 years he was chairman of the National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs, which honoured him in 1990, presenting him with a portrait of himself and his wife who, he claimed, had been the biggest asset in his career.

He was a great observer of character and his friends and family loved to listen to his impressions and humorous anecdotes about the people he had worked with or met in his travels.

Since a heart bypass operation in 1994, although still playing occasionally, he was never happier than in his large garden which, in summer, was transformed into a nine-hole putting green on a lawn which Glen-eagles would have envied.

Jimmy is survived by his wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren.