Top accordion player Halcrow dies, aged 80

One of Shetland’s greatest accordion players, Jim Halcrow, died last week at the age of 80.

Mr Halcrow, from Scalloway, got his first instrument at the age 17. He taught himself to play using techniques developed on his mother Jeanie’s pedal-driven organ.

He mastered the accordion within a year and joined Shetland’s top band of the day The New Players, later joining the Hamefarers Band.
His own band The Better Haaf became a fixture at the Lerwick Hotel for many years when dances on Saturday night were usually a sell-out.

Band members included Ronnie Hunter and Ian Stewart on guitars, Mitchell McLeod on drums and Jackie Sinclair on guitar and vocals.

Mr Halcrow was a slater and plasterer to trade but later qualified as a piano tuner, where his skills were very much in demand for well over 35 years.

Over the years Mr Halcrow appeared on stage with the likes of Peerie Willie Johnson and Willie Hunter, while one of his most memorable experiences was touring France with Alastair Hunter’s Scottish Dance Band.

Some years ago with his band he appeared at the “Shetland Night” concert at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival, where he went down a storm with the audience.

In 2013 he was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, regarded by some as the Scottish “Oscars” of the genre. His wife Doreen accompanied him at the ceremony in Fort William, which was televised live on BBC Alba.

Mr Halcrow’s son David followed in his father’s footsteps, joining him in the band and more recently becoming first accordionist, while his daughter Hazel is married to Scottish dance band leader Craig McCallum.

A full obituary will follow in The Shetland Times next week.


Add Your Comment
  • john pottinger

    • June 23rd, 2015 18:47

    Very sorry indeed to hear of Jim’s passing. A musician of the very highest calibre. a true ‘great’. Also a very fine person indeed. The last of the ‘New Players’ as well. The music scene is so very much the poorer now.


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