One of the greatest cornet player to put mouthpiece to lip in the history of the world. Shepherd revolutionised the art of cornet playing and was the bridge between the great players of the immediate post war period and those modern superstars of the current era. He came to Black Dyke to replace one of the greatest players in banding history in Maurice Murphy, and left as possibly their greatest ever Principal Cornet. A technique honed to perfection and possessing the classic cornet tone, he recorded both with Black Dyke and later his own Versatile Brass the definitive renditions of the classic cornet solos such as “Cleopatra” and “Pandora”.
From those childhood days and those first tentative steps on to the stage at the Newbiggin Salvation Army Citadel, Jim Shepherd was to become a true legend of the brass band movement. ]
Beginning as 'a learner' just as we all did he was introduced to George Wright one of his early tutors and conductor of the Newbiggin (senior) Band at that time, someone Jim still has the highest regard for.
It is hard to imagine him ever being nervous before a performance but it is said that before performing 'Bless this House' at his very first junior slow melody he went to pray. Someone was obviously listening that day because he walked out and performed like an old trooper and won the competition.
He made rapid progress until eventually after his National Service he was 'spotted' and invited to Yorkshire and join Carlton Main and Frickley Colliery Band under the direction of Jack Atherton, another name that conjures up memories from the past.
He made an early impact on the Yorkshire Band scene and was declared the Champion Soloist of Great Britain for three years running during the 1960's. It was long time family friend Ralph Lowery who had initially encouraged him to travel south to join Carlton and was now actively supporting his move to Black Dyke to replace the legendary Maurice Murphy.
He led Black Dyke through one of their most celebrated periods until in 1973 when he left to take his James Shepherd Versatile Brass ensemble from something that many thought of as something that would be a short lived novelty. His connection with the group was to last twenty-five years, receiving rave revues wherever they performed, travelling to almost all Four Corners of the world.
During his long career he has taught countless individual pupils many that have gone on to join some of the finest brass bands, orchestras and military styled bands in the country. As well as all those other students who simply wanted to enjoy playing and making music at their own particular level of performance. Whilst taking the odd Masterclass he is in his element when confronted by a group of youngsters who are taking their own first tentative steps and as yet have little or no ability. Jim has the patience and rare talent of being able to get the best out of his young students - he is known to be a hard taskmaster but all his young students think the world of him and endeavour to do their best for him.
Hear Jim play "Pandora"