Guitarist Henry McCullough, best known for his days with Paul McCartney & Wings, has passed away after a lengthy illness at the age of 72.
Born in Northern Ireland, McCullough developed his musical chops with the showband Gene & The Gents and later Eire Apparent and the Irish folk group Sweeney’s Men. But his career took a turn for the better when he became part of Joe Cocker’s backup group, The Grease Band. McCullough was on stage and would sing back up vocals along with bass player Alan Spenner when Cocker sang The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” at Woodstock.
Cocker would part company with The Grease Band the following year, but they would get to play on Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar album before joining the prog rock band Spooky Tooth.
Then came an invitation few ever receive. Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join Wings as their lead guitarist. He only played on one Wings album – Red Rose Speedway. McCullough flew the coup before Band on The Run. Nevertheless, McCullough left his imprint with his guitar work on songs like “Live & Let Die”, “Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi!” and “My Love” (all of which are below for your listening pleasure).
McCullough’s career was never quite the same after leaving Wings though he did continue to perform and record mostly in Ireland. However, McCullough did leave one other interesting footnote. If you own a copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon and remember the guy who said, “I don’t know I was really drunk at the time,” between “Money” & “Us & Them”, well, that was McCullough.
Despite his short-lived tenure with the former Beatle, Macca paid tribute to McCullough upon hearing of his death. In a statement on his website, McCartney wrote,
“He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humor. The solo he played on ‘My Love’ was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra.”