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  Jimmy Greenan


Jimmy GreenanThe late Jimmy Greenan lived in Edinburgh near Sandy Bell's Bar which he frequented. He was a very good whistle player who had a polio-affected arm. Jack Campin told me, "He used to play with his bad arm lifted whistle-height in a sling and had an extraordinary technique of lifting fingers on that hand off the holes by pulling the whole whistle downwards with the other hand. It looked like somebody dancing a marionette."

Derek Hoy: "I remember Jimmy using a bag on the whistle for a while. A joke I think, but he must have tried a number of ways to get over the arm problem. Mostly he used to always stand with one leg up on a box or something and rest his arm on that leg. He was quite a man, but didn't have his troubles to seek."

David Begg: "I'd heard him in the Forrest Hill Bar from 1969 onwards but didn't know his name. I owe a debt to him for starting an interest in the music and the instrument. I'm sorry not to have much to add, except that they were wonderful musicians and I'm sad to hear about the end of his life. I do remember that he used a piece of plastic tube attached to the mouthpiece so that he could hold the whistle lower down, within reach of his atrophic hand, and that seemed to work fine. That would be 1969-1974ish."

Jack Campin again: "He died of hypothermia after spending a couple of years drinking himself to death on homebrew... The whistles he used most often were buried with him. He'd gone on homebrew binges before but always emerged from them after a few weeks; this time, he seems to have just lost the will to live - he didn't play at all in that final self-destructive period and seemed hardly to recognize anybody, talking angrily and obsessively to himself. I didn't see him again after he stopped coming into Sandy Bell's sometime in mid-1998..."

There is a poor-quality private recording of Jimmy playing solo and with friends, but it's known that there is more existing recordings of him, so the hope is that a good recording will be released at some point in the future.

Any other information about Jimmy would be gratefully received (email me).

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