Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Henry McCullough dead at 72

Henry Campbell Liken McCullough
July 21, 1943 - June 14, 2016

Guitarist Henry McCullough passed away this morning. According to a Twitter post from Maurice Jay, McCullough died at home with his wife Josie by his side. The cause of death is unknown at this time, although McCullough did suffer from a heart attack in November 2012- leaving him in critical condition for some time and with severe brain damage. 

McCullough is probably best known for his time as a member of Paul McCartney and Wings. Prior to joining Wings, the Ireland-born guitarist was in several bands throughout the 1960s. By 1969, McCullough had joined singer Joe Cocker's backing band- the Grease Band. With Cocker and the Grease Band, McCullough performed at the Woodstock Festival. McCullough was also a session musician. One of his credits is playing on the original cast recording of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar. He was also one of the voices on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album. At the end of "Money," a montage of responses to the question "Were you in the right (the last time you were in a fight)?" can be heard. McCullough answered the question by saying "I don't know. I was really drunk at the time."

In 1972, McCullough joined Wings as a fifth member. Wings had originally formed in 1971. The band consisted of McCartney, his wife Linda on keyboards, former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine and drummer Denny Seiwell. The band already had one album under their belts with Wild Life- released in late 1971. With McCullough, the band were able to go on tour and release several singles- including the controversial "Give Ireland Back to the Irish," a cover of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and the banned drug themed rocker "Hi Hi Hi." In 1973, the band release their sophomore effort- Red Rose Speedway. The album included the hit single "My Love." In later years, McCartney gave credit to McCullough for coming up with the soaring guitar solo on the track. McCullough left the band only a few months after the album was released. According to McCartney, the band had set plans to record their next album (Band on the Run) in Lagos. McCullough and Seiwell had called the night before, saying they didn't want to go and were leaving the band. According to other sources, both McCullough and Seiwell had left the band for different reasons. With McCullough, he supposedly had an argument with McCartney so heated that McCullough left the recording studio- leaving the band the next day. Either way, McCullough was no longer in Wings by 1973.

After leaving Wings, McCullough went on with a solo career. His debut album, Mind Your Own Business, was released in 1975 on George Harrison's Dark Horse label. He also continued serving as a session musician on and off and continued to tour until his heart attack in 2012. He is also the third former Wings to pass away. He is predeceased by his replacement Jimmy McCulloch and Linda McCartney. McCulloch died in 1979 from a drug overdose at the age of 26 while Linda died in 1998 after a brave battle with breast cancer. 

It's very sad to hear of Henry McCullough's passing. He was a great guitarist. Even though his time in Wings was short, I still enjoy listening to his work with the band. 

Rest in peace, Henry.