Deep Bands: Jimmy McCulloch
Jimmy McCulloch was a guitarist ahead of his time. While his name may not sound familiar to some, the key moment in his career was playing for Paul McCartney and Wings. However, he died too soon. This is his story.
Jimmy McCulloch was born June 4, 1953 in Glasgow, Scotland. At an early age, Jimmy became interested in playing the guitar. The first band Jimmy was in was called the Jaygars when he was 11 years old. The Jaygars evolved into the band One in a Million. The group managed to release a single or two and then split. When Jimmy was only 16, he joined Speedy Keen and Andy Newman in Thunderclap Newman in 1969. The trio recorded their first album with the Who’s Pete Townshend. Jimmy wrote one song on the album called “Hollywood Dream” and later a single called “I See it All”. The album Hollywood Dream was released in 1970. The album featured the hit single, “Something in the Air”. The band had a tour planned and Jimmy’s brother Jack had joined along with bassist Jim Avery. However, Thunderclap Newman broke up and remained a one-hit wonder. After leaving Thunderclap Newman, Jimmy toured with John Mayall for a three week tour in Germany. He even formed his own band but that didn’t last very long. In 1972, Jimmy joined Stone the Crows. Stone the Crows had just faced a tragedy as their guitarist Les Harvey died after being electrocuted on stage. Jimmy had big shoes to fill. In 1972, the band released their fourth album Ontinuous Performances (Jimmy played only two songs on the album). While Jimmy was in Stone the Crows, he and drummer Colin Allen wrote two songs called “Medicine Jar” and “Wino Junko”. The songs were never used until much later. The band played a couple of shows and as singer Maggie Bell recalls, they loved Jimmy. Still, the band didn’t feel the same after Harvey’s sudden death. As a result, Stone the Crows broke up in 1973. For a short time, Jimmy was a member of Blue. The band had a minor hit with “Little Jody” but Jimmy’s stay wasn’t long.
In 1974, Jimmy McCulloch was asked to join Paul McCartney and Wings. Wings had just released Band on the Run, which became a huge hit when released in 1973. The band consisted of Paul, his wife Linda, and Denny Laine. Also joining Wings was drummer Geoff Britton. The band went down to Nashville in 1974 and recorded the hit single “Junior’s Farm”. Britton didn’t last for long and after a few recording sessions with him, he left the band. He was replaced by drummer Joe English. In 1975, the band released Venus and Mars. McCartney wanted Wings to be more than a backing band and allowed the other members sing their own songs. On Venus and Mars, Jimmy sang “Medicine Jar” which he wrote with Colin Allen a few years back. “Medicine Jar” later became a part of the live set. In 1975, the band embarked on their Wings Over the World tour. In between, Wings At the Speed of Sound was released. The album featured another song from Jimmy called “Wino Junko”. When Wings came over to the USA, the shows started to sell out and the crowds went crazy. Critics were praising McCartney and Wings for putting on a great show. However, there was craziness on the road. One story had to with Jimmy not wanting to come back for the encore. One story puts it that Paul and Jimmy got into a fight so intense that Paul decked Jimmy. Still, the success of Wings made Paul the most popular ex-Beatle. In 1977, the band decided to record on a yacht called the Fair Carol in the Virgin Islands for the next album London Town. The sessions were stopped by Linda’s pregnancy. London Town was later released in 1978 and before its release, Jimmy left the band.
When Jimmy finished his tour with Wings, his brother Jack, and Dave Clarke formed White Line. The band released one single “Call My Name”, which Clarke sang. Jimmy sang the b-side song “Too Many Miles”. An album with all of the band’s recordings was released in 1994. In 1977, Jimmy joined a reunited version of the Small Faces. The band went on a one month tour and released an album called 78 in the Shade. In 1979, Jimmy joined the Dukes. The band released a self titled album. One song, “Heartbreaker”, had Jimmy on lead vocals. The band later toured with Wishbone Ash. Sadly on September 27, 1979, Jimmy McCulloch was found dead in his flat in Maida Vale, West London. The Dukes found a replacement but soon broke up.