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Jimmy McCulloch

The Wings circlePart of the following line-ups • Wings 1974-1975Wings 1975-1977

Last updated on August 29, 2023


Details

  • Born: Jun 04, 1953
  • Died: Sep 27, 1979

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From Wikipedia:

James McCulloch (4 June 1953 – 27 September 1979) was a British musician and songwriter best known for playing lead guitar and bass, as a member of Paul McCartney’s band Wings from 1974 to 1977. McCulloch was a member of the Glasgow psychedelic band One in a Million (formerly known as the Jaygars), Thunderclap Newman, and Stone the Crows.

McCulloch also made appearances on many albums, including John Entwistle’s Whistle Rymes in 1972, as lead guitarist playing alongside Peter Frampton on “Apron Strings” and I Feel Better. McCulloch also played guitar on Roger Daltrey’s album One of the Boys which was released in 1977. McCulloch was a friend of the Who and a member of the band Thunderclap Newman, which was created and produced by his mentor Pete Townshend. At age 11, he was also a protégé of the Shadows’ Hank Marvin. His brother is drummer Jack McCulloch.

Biography

Born in Dumbarton and raised in Clydebank and Cumbernauld, Scotland, McCulloch inspired by Django Reinhardt began to play the guitar at the age of 11 and at that age, he made his performance debut as the guitarist for the Jaygars, which was later known as One in a Million. One in a Million performed live in support of The Who during their tour of Scotland in 1967. That year, One in a Million released their “Fredereek Hernando”/”Double Sight” single on MGM. The single is now highly collectable, and an expensive purchase, now classed as a classic and obscure UK psychedelic release. Double Sight, a CD compilation of these and other songs written and recorded by the band, was released in 2009.

In April 1967, McCulloch played lead guitar for the Utterly Incredible, Too Long Ago to Remember, Sometimes Shouting at People during the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream event, which was held on the grounds of the Alexandra Palace in London. That year, he played guitar for One in a Million, which performed live at The Upper Cut and other London venues.

McCulloch first rose to fame in 1969 when he joined Pete Townshend’s friends, Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman (piano) and songwriter John ‘Speedy’ Keen (vocals, drums), to form the band Thunderclap Newman. The band enjoyed a UK No. 1 hit with “Something in the Air” that year. Thunderclap Newman’s album, Hollywood Dream, on which McCulloch’s title instrumental then and his song “I See It All” later appeared, sold well but was not as successful as their hit single. From January 1971 until mid-April 1971, the band had toured England, Scotland, Holland, and Scandinavia before they disbanded a couple of weeks later.

In October 1971, McCulloch played guitar in concert with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in England and Germany. On 31 October 1971 McCulloch’s band Bent Frame made its performance debut in London. The band subsequently renamed itself the Jimmy McCulloch Band and toured England and Scotland in support of Leslie West’s Mountain in February 1972. By then, McCulloch had done session work for Klaus Voorman, Harry Nilsson, Steve Ellis, John Entwistle, and others.

In June 1972, McCulloch joined the blues rock band (and fellow Mayall-school alumni) Stone the Crows to replace guitarist Les Harvey, who had been electrocuted on stage. McCulloch helped Stone the Crows to complete their Ontinuous Performance album by playing on the tracks “Sunset Cowboy” and “Good Time Girl”. Stone the Crows disbanded in June 1973.

In 1973, McCulloch played guitar on John Keen’s album, Previous Convictions, had a brief stint in Blue and he played guitar on Brian Joseph Friel’s debut album under the pseudonym ‘The Phantom’.

Paul McCartney/Wings and after

McCulloch joined Wings in August 1974. His debut track with them was “Junior’s Farm“.

McCulloch composed the music score of the anti-drug song “Medicine Jar” on Wings’ Venus and Mars album and the similar “Wino Junko” on the band’s Wings at the Speed of Sound album. He also sang both. Colin Allen, former drummer for Stone the Crows, wrote the lyrics of both songs.

During his time with Wings, McCulloch formed White Line with his brother Jack on drums and Dave Clarke on bass, keyboards and vocals. They played several impromptu gigs and released a single, “Call My Name”/”Too Many Miles”. A 13-track album, White Line – Complete, was released in 1994 on Clarke’s Mouse Records. Jimmy McCulloch and White Line had appeared on the British TV programme Supersonic on 27 November 1976. In addition, McCulloch recorded and produced two unreleased songs by The Khyber Trifles and had occasionally performed live (in London and their native Glasgow) with the band. Finally, as noted above, he played guitar on Roy Harper’s album, Bullinamingvase, and Ricci Martin’s album, Beached, in 1977.

In September 1977, McCulloch left Wings to join the reformed Small Faces during the latter band’s nine date tour of England that month. He played guitar on the Small Faces’ album, 78 in the Shade. In early 1978, McCulloch started a band called Wild Horses with Brian Robertson, Jimmy Bain and Kenney Jones, but both McCulloch and Jones left the band soon afterward. In 1979, McCulloch joined the Dukes. His last recorded song, “Heartbreaker”, appeared on their only album, The Dukes.

A melodic, heavily blues-infused guitarist, McCulloch normally used a Gibson SG and a Gibson Les Paul, and he occasionally played bass when McCartney was playing piano or acoustic guitar.

Death

On 27 September 1979, McCulloch was found dead by his brother in his flat in Maida Vale, London. An autopsy found that McCulloch died of heart failure due to morphine and alcohol poisoning. He was 26 years old but was not known for being a user of hard drugs. […]

September 8, 1977

HIS MUSIC LIVES ON

WINGS and MPL were shocked and very sad at the news that ex-Wings’ guitarist Jimmy McCulloch was found dead in his London flat last month. I’m sure you will agree that Jimmy’s unique style and flair contributed greatly to many favourite Wings tracks both in concert and on record. Any of you who saw Wings touring in 1975/6 will probably never forget the sensitive but powerful guitar riffs from Jimmy — a real talent who will be sadly missed. Our very sincere condolences to his family, especially Jack and Bella.

From Club Sandwich N°14, April / May 1979
From Bracknell Times – Thursday 20 December 1973
From Daily Mirror – Monday 01 October 1979
From Daily Mirror – Friday 28 September 1979

Probe into death of ex Wings’ guitarist A post-mortem examination was being held to-day on pop star Jimmy McCulloch—former lead guitarist with Paul McCartney’s Wings who was found dead at his flat in Paddington, North London. Police are treating the case as suspicious until the results of the examination are known later to-day. McCulloch’s body was discovered by his brother after he broke into the talented guitarist’s home. There was no obvious sign of injury and police said he had been dead for a con• siderable time. Tragically, the 26-year-old star guitarist was due to make his London debut tonight with his new band The Dooks at Dingwall’s Club, in Camden Lock. Jimmy, the baby-faced youngster in the Wings line-up, left the band two years ago to play with 11e Small Faces. He wrote the anti-drugs song Meiicine Jar for Wings’ Venus and Mars album. He also played in the chart-topping Mull of Kintyre. McCartney said to-day: “He was a great guitar player. I’m very, very sad.”

From Liverpool Echo – Friday 28 September 1979
From Liverpool Echo – Friday 28 September 1979
From New Musical Express – October 6, 1979
From New Musical Express – October 6, 1979
From Melody Maker – October 6, 1979
From New Musical Express – April 27, 1974

“Jimmy left Wings over money. He was getting session fees, he was getting paid for being on the road but wasn’t getting any royalties for the records and he wanted more money to stay in the band or he wanted some sort of royalty. That’s basically why that argument started. That was the case of like “I’m the star and I can get anybody else in here because everybody wants to play with me and if you don’t like it you can leave.” So he did. It was basically ‘I think I’m worth a little bit more than you’re giving me.’

“The way Paul had kept Jimmy quiet early on was to make sure he got a song on an album so he’d get some song royalties if nothing else and then he dropped the idea of putting any of Jimmy’s songs on the albums so that was the thing. “I need some more money out of this.” He was getting session fees for the recordings and he was getting paid for the live thing. He just thought he should be getting a little bit more as he was helping to promote this band that was one of the biggest in the world at the time. He wanted fair dues as they say, but unfortunately things came to a head…I wouldn’t say Jimmy was thinking about leaving, but it must’ve been in the back of his mind. He didn’t bring it up with me and say ‘I’m pissed off with this, I’m gonna leave.’ He said, ‘I’m pissed off with this, I’m going to do something about it,’ and so that’s what happened. He never threatened to leave as far as I understand. He had nothing sort of like planned. Normally if that happens, if someone was going to leave a band of their own will, they’ve normally got something lined up. It wasn’t something he was planning to do.”

Jack McCulloch – Brother of Jimmy Culloch – From Jimmy McCulloch on Facebook – Jimmy left Wings in September 1977 to join a reformed lineup of the Small Faces. In an interview with Jack McCulloch for Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch Story, Jack discussed his brother’s exit from the band
From Jimmy McCulloch on Facebook
From Facebook – Jimmy McCulloch, Scotland, 1975 | © 1975 Paul McCartney / Photographer: Linda McCartney. All rights reserved

I’d never take any hour back,” Jimmy McCulloch reminisced about his career in popular music. The sentiment is frequently heard, but rarely from a man of twenty-one.

McCulloch has a lot to look back on. At thirteen he joined the Glaswegian group One In A Million. “My folks helped us get a truck and backed us all the way,” Jimmy said proudly.

Moving to London, the Scots teenager joined Thunderclap Newman, played on the number one single ‘Something in the Air‘, and composed the title track of ‘Hollywood Dream’, He then toured with John Mayall and joined Stone the Crows.

It wasn’t all glamour being a child rocker. “I had to rely on cabs and public transport“, Jimmy recalled. “I went for a Jethro Tull audition on the tube once. It was the Piccadilly Line from Wood Green to Leicester Square, and I had to stand with my guitar upright in a packed tube. Then it turned out I was too young for the audition”. After leaving Stone the Crows and serving a brief stint with Blue, McCulloch auditioned with McCartney. This time he passed the audition. His first Wings solo was the “Take Me Down, Jimmy!” bridge on ‘Junior Farm’, and his ‘Medicine Jar’, co-written with Colin Allen of Focus appears on ‘Venus and Mars’.

The only romantically unattached member of the group, McCulloch has taken up weekend golf for relaxation. He often returns to Scotland to see his mates and supports Scotland in international matches, even when he thinks they might lose.

Paul McCartney – From Wings 1975 tour book

Songs written or co-written by Jimmy McCulloch

Albums, EPs & singles which Jimmy McCulloch contributed to

Paul McCartney writing

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Paul Salley • 1 year ago

As the author of Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch Story, I appreciate the effort you have made in compiling everything on your website pertaining to Jimmy. I would like to see his bio updated along with other articles/photos.


The PaulMcCartney Project • 1 year ago

Hi Paul, thanks for your kind words. Your book is still in my todo list, and the content for 1975/1976 is still quite weak! Some work to do! Thanks.


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