He failed an audition for the BBC because he kept time with his foot. At a time when gramophones were very much luxury items he made two records for the Regal Zonophone label in 1933. His career took off when he switched to making 78s for the Beltona label (1935–1940). Most of the Beltona recordings were solo, but he experimented with small bands. This boosted sales. He appeared in a promo film shown in cinemas. While the image showed his fingers moving in a blur, Jimmy was disappointed to hear the sound track playing a slow air. He was prevented from joining the RAF by a digestive disorder, and spent the war years in the Fire Service. On New Year's Day morning in 1945 he made his first broadcast with "Jimmy Shand and his Band". This was the first of many such BBC radio and television appearances.
Statue of Jimmy Shand, by David Annand, in Auchtermuchty
More than 330 compositions are credited to Jimmy Shand. He recorded more tracks than the Beatles and Elvis Presley combined.