Formed in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1952 as a semi-professional band, the Clyde Valley Stompers quickly found a following in the region. When leader and bass player Jim McHarg emigrated to Canada in 1954, Ian Menzies (b. Scotland, d. 25 November 2005, Vancouver, Canada) became the leader of the band and soon thereafter the band became a full-time professional group. Their popularity extended throughout the UK during the 50s trad jazz boom and they had several minor hit records. Mainly, though, the band’s fanbase remained strongest in Scotland. Many of these fans assert that the band was better live than on record, and there is certainly more than a hint of a vigorous, at times unbridled, enthusiasm underlying much of their recorded output. Apart from trombonist Menzies, other members included, successively, trumpeters Charlie Gall and Malcolm Higgins, clarinettist Jimmy Doherty, Forrie Cairns and Peter Kerr. The rhythm section included pianists John Doherty, John Cairns and Ronnie Duff, banjo players Norrie Brown and Jim Douglas, bass players Louis Reddie, Andrew Bennie and Bob Bain, and drummers Bobby Shannon, Robbie Winter, Sandy Malcolm and Billy Law. Vocalist with the band for some two years was Fionna (Fiona) Duncan. The band had a UK Top 30 success in 1962 with ‘Peter And The Wolf’ but although they appeared on television, including playing on The Morecambe And Wise Show, the days of trad as pop were over. The group disbanded in 1963 although they occasionally re-formed thereafter, including 1981 recording sessions on which several of the founder members appeared under Menzies’ leadership, including McHarg, Higgins, Forrie and John Cairns and Duncan.
Menzies later moved to Canada, continuing to play and dying there in 2005. Higgins also moved to Canada and continued to play in jazz groups. Kerr led a similar band, with some of the same personnel, before going into record production. Both Forrie Cairns and his brother John remained involved in music, as did Law and Douglas. The latter switched to guitar and built a notable career and was later a British Jazz Award winner. Duncan became a successful solo artist, a respected teacher, a concert promoter and a mainstay of the strong Scottish jazz scene of the late 90s and early 00s.