T.J. "Jim" Crosbie MBE - A personal tribute



On July 5th last week, Tynwald Day, the Youth Band played at St. John's as part of the Tynwald Day celebrations. Twenty years ago on that day the Youth Band also played in a special concert to mark the occasion. The concert was at the Douglas Sea Terminal and a packed waiting hall listened to a joint concert by the Youth Band and the Regimental Band of the Scots Guards. Little were we to know then that this concert would be the last time that the Youth Band were to be conducted by their founding Musical Director Jim Crosbie MBE.

To say that Jimmy was a unique individual does not do him justice at all. His musical ability, teaching talent, dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to his band can not be understated. Jim was special to all of us and even now, 20 years on, still retains a place in my heart and, I am certain, the hearts of those who were privileged to have been associated with him.

Jim was a hard taskmaster. If you missed a rehearsal or an engagement without a very good reason then you had a lot to answer for! He also demanded, and usually got, your full attention and commitment. In return he infected us all hugely with his obvious love for music and in particular the brass band. He was also immensely generous, especially if you were a poor impoverished student like myself. He even organised employment for me in order for me to return to the Island during my work experience placing.

In 1980 he had to undergo a major operation which meant him not being available for the end of the summer season. I was very proud when he selected me to stand in for him and take temporary stewardship of his beloved Youth Band. Sadly the operation did not manage to rid him of the cancer that was to painfully kill him a year later. However, he was determined to participate in the Tynwald Concert and only a few of us realised just what courage he was showing taking part.

His last words to me a few days prior to his death was over a matter of a placement in the Band. "Leave it until I get back" he said.

Sadly he died on 30th September 1981.

The band world and the Island lost a special person. In particular the Manx Youth Band lost a person who could never be replaced. I would like to think that over the last 20 years those of us who knew Jim and his goals and objectives have not lost sight of them. Whether we have succeeded or not only time will tell. For tonight as you listen and hopefully enjoy the music played by both the Youth Band and Concert Brass just take a little time to reflect on that without the life of Jimmy Crosbie MBE none of this would have been possible.

Ian Clague MBE
Musical Director, Manx Youth Band/Manx Concert Brass