Henry McCullough

The Wings circlePart of the following line-ups • Wings 1972-1973

Jul 21, 1943
Jun 14, 2016


From Wikipedia:

Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (21 July 1943 – 14 June 2016) was a Northern Irish guitarist, singer and songwriter. He was best known for his work as a member of Spooky Tooth, the Grease Band and Paul McCartney and Wings. He also performed and recorded as a solo artist and session musician.

Early life

McCullough was born in Portstewart, and first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with the Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. McCullough was Protestant In 1964, with three other members of the Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and the Gents.

In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band the People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler’s management team, who changed the group’s name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance after a single release they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, the Move and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, as well as Eric Burdon and the Animals.

Things went well until in Vancouver, Canada in mid-February 1968, while the band was touring with the Animals, McCullough returned to the United Kingdom, officially because of “visa problems” and Mick Cox flew out to take his place in the band. Back in Ireland, around May 1968, McCullough joined folk group Sweeney’s Men.


McCullough returned to London around 1969 to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing band, the Grease Band. With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival. He later played on the Grease Band’s eponymous album. During his time with the band he appeared as lead guitarist on the studio album of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) and on the progressive Spooky Tooth album The Last Puff (1970).

In 1972 Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell. He spent two years in the band, playing lead guitar on several singles, including “Hi, Hi, Hi“, “Live and Let Die” and “My Love” as well as the album Red Rose Speedway. Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough leave on the eve of the Band on the Run sessions.

McCullough’s spoken words “I don’t know; I was really drunk at the time” can be heard on the Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), at the end of the song “Money”. He was recalling a fight he had the night before with his wife. […]

Our roadies happened to know Henry McCullough, who had been in Joe Cocker’s Grease Band. They said he was really good so we invited him along to a rehearsal and we all got along well. He became Wings’ lead guitarist, and so now we had a complete five-piece band ready to rock.

Paul McCartney, in Wingspan, 2002

I received a phone call from Ian Horne, my roadie, who asked me to go to a rehearsal the next day. I had a couple of pints of Guinness before I went along the first time. That helped… It was a wee room. The equipment was set up and Paul asked me to play and said the rest of them would fit in. We got into some rock’n’roll, things like ‘Blue Moon Of Kentucky’, ‘Lucille’, some things off the Wild Life album and some reggae. Also there were a couple of new ones he’d written. On one song he was kind of playing away on a tune I hadn’t heard before so I asked him what to do. He said, ‘We’re all just trying it out,’ and just continued playing. We all joined in, it went on a bit further and in no time at all, a song was written. It was written on the spot and we all contributed. I’ve only met Paul twice, but he seems full of energy and enthusiasm. He comes in and throws off his coat and gets right into it. I can’t help having respect for Paul and all the songs he’s written and what he’s achieved. But, it’s just another band as far as I’m concerned, and that’s the way Paul wants it. Originally Denny Laine was going to be the lead guitarist and vocalist as well, but I felt Denny felt a bit restricted playing guitar and singing at the same time. He probably felt he couldn’t do both. Paul’s talking about just arriving somewhere, it could be up North somewhere or even Broadway, throwing open the van doors and playing wherever it happens to be.

Henry McCullough – From “The Beatles: Off The Record 2 – The Dream is Over: Dream Is Over Vol 2” by Keith Badman

From Something Else!, August 24, 2011:

Nick DeRiso: You joined Wings at a time when Paul McCartney was issuing a series of memorable stand-alone singles, starting with the banned recording “Hi Hi Hi.” Wings followed that with a reworking of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had A Little Lamb.” Did you start to question just what you’d gotten yourself into?

Henry McCullough, (after a good chuckle): I remember performing ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ (for the ‘James Paul McCartney’ television special) outside, and we were all dressed in white with lambs all around. There I was, leaned up against a tree, singing ‘Mary Had A bloody Little Lamb!’ It was one the many instances where I thought: ‘How long will this last?’ He brought in guitar players after me but it was never going to be ‘Wings,’ as a real band. It was always going to be Paul McCartney. They were a great couple, he and Linda – God bless her soul. But that was the way it went. Saying all of that, I have always had a great respect for Paul. The time we spent together, out bonding on the road, it meant we didn’t have to work at it. […]

From songfacts.com, interview with Henry McCullough, August 23, 2011:

[…] I met Paul in Dublin at one of the gigs he was doing, and he was fantastic. He’s been ever so generous over the years with his talk about how this Irish guy was in the studio telling him the solo he wrote wasn’t good enough.

I walked away at a very wrong time, which was just like a week before going off to Vegas. We had all been up and rehearsed in Scotland at his place, the Mull of Kintyre, when meself and Paul had a few words to say to each other on a particular day and that was it. The minute he left I knew that was it. I just packed my guitar, I didn’t say anything to Paul. I just left. And it was probably the most unprofessional thing I’ve ever done in me life.

Less than a week later, Denny Seiwell left. It wasn’t for the same reason as me, but we were friends in the band and he didn’t want to be there if I wasn’t going to be there. You know, there was a huge bond within the band before we went out to play one note of music. It was Paul’s first time out with Wings, and we were all very protective of him and wanted to do our very best with him. But he very quickly became Paul McCartney again. After Denny and I left, I saw a little bit of Paul on TV, where he says, “Well, the guys just didn’t want to go to Africa.” That sort of says it all. We had never brought up that subject at all. But it was easier for him. “You guys didn’t want to go to Africa.” And that was it. They had no more story. But he’s a great musician and a great man. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. What happened between us was too many years ago to bother about. […]

On a side note, Henry McCullough is credited on “Money“, by Pink Floyd. From Something Else!, August 25, 2011:

Wings were in Studio 1 at Abbey Road, and Pink Floyd were doing Dark Side in Studio 2 right across the hall. They asked Paul to do a little bit of work on it with them. He said: ‘Henry, I’m busy. Nip across and see what the lads want.’ I go over, and they have six questions on pieces of paper, face down. For whatever reason, they wanted me to answer one — and the first thing you said was going to be recorded. They wanted something spontaneous. My piece of paper said: ‘When was the last time you had a fight with your wife?’ (Laughs uproariously.)

Henry McCullough

From paulmccartney.com, June 14, 2016:

I was very sad to hear that Henry McCullough, our great Wings guitarist, passed away today. He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humour. The solo he played on ‘My Love’ was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. Our deepest sympathies from my family to his.

Paul McCartney

It was a real happy time, apart from the hiccup in the middle of it, when I suggested that maybe we could get in a better piano player than Linda – I had to back off real quick. She learnt how to work with the band. I was sorry that I’d actually brought it up. She was such a beautiful woman, I felt really sorry about it. But I wanted a fuckin’ Jerry Lee Lewis!

Henry McCullough – Interview with Hot Press, 2008

I still have the Les Paul Goldtop that I used with Wings and at Woodstock. I have it hid. I never take it out. I’m too scared I’d break the neck or something. […]

I went into the studio with the old Goldtop slung on. I swear I had no idea what I was going to play. I left it in the hands of the gods. On the song you’ll hear me waiting until the orchestra comes in before I play a note! It went from A to B in the most fluent way and I don’t remember doing it. I went into the control room and George Martin was looking at me and Paul says: ‘Henry, have you not rehearsed that?’ And I said I’d never played any of that stuff before in my fuckin’ life.

Paul was very proud of me. It made a bond that still lasts to this day. We do write. Maybe twice a year. Keep playin’ those silver strings, Henry! I should be playing gold ones, Paul!

Henry McCullough – Interview with Hot Press, 2008

Last updated on April 17, 2022

Albums, EPs & singles by Henry McCullough


By Henry McCullough • Official album

Songs written or co-written by Henry McCullough

Henry's Blues

Unreleased song

Live Long Rock & Roll

Officially appears on Ballywonderland

Albums, EPs & singles which Henry McCullough contributed to

Give Ireland Back To The Irish

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Electric guitar, Performed by • 1 songs

Mary Had A Little Lamb / Little Woman Love (UK)

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin • 1 songs

Hi, Hi, Hi / C Moon

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Drums, Electric guitar • 2 songs

Mary Had A Little Lamb / Little Woman Love (Germany)

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin • 1 songs

Mary Had A Little Lamb / Little Woman Love (France)

By Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Mandolin • 1 songs

Helen Wheels / Country Dreamer

By Paul McCartney & Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Slide guitar • 1 songs

Live And Let Die / I Lie Around

By Paul McCartney & Wings • 7" Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Electric guitar • 2 songs

My Love / The Mess

By Paul McCartney • 7" Single

Contribution: Backing vocals, Electric guitar • 2 songs

Red Rose Speedway

By Paul McCartney & Wings • LP

Contribution: Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Electric guitar, Percussion • 9 songs

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