The Paul McCartney Project

Interview with Henry McCullough

Interview of Henry McCullough • August 2011
Published by:
SongFacts
By:
Carl Wiser
Read interview on SongFacts
Timeline More from year 2011

Songs mentioned in this interview


Mull Of Kintyre

Officially appears on Mull Of Kintyre


My Love

Officially appears on Red Rose Speedway

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Interview

Carl Wiser (Songfacts): Henry, I thought of you when I was watching that “Let It Be” clip where George Harrison was being driven crazy by Paul McCartney. I was wondering if you had seen that before you took the job working for Paul.

Henry McCullough: No, I hadn’t seen it. But I saw it after I left. It was the same scenario from the way I grasped it, it was like, Okay, I have this song and I have a bit that goes la la la, and a bit that goes here, and then you play do-do-do-do-do-do-do. But I had done all that when I was 16 and 17, when I worked in Irish show bands. You copied everything that was on there; you even had to learn stuff like The Shadows and The Ventures – you know, “Apache” or stuff like that. And that was okay then. It was a big learning period for me. It was a dance band with four horns and a piano, no bass and no guitar. Show.

But when it came down to the “My Love” thing, I just felt meself that it was time. I didn’t want to play with somebody else if I didn’t think it was good enough. And I can’t remember what it was I was asked to play, but whatever it was I refused and said that I was going to change the solo. So Paul says, “Well, what are you going to play?” I said, “I don’t know.” Well, that put the fear of God in him, I think. Because there I am, just me and a 50-piece orchestra in the studio and there’s George Martin in the control room and Paul. I knew it was going to be a turning point in some shape or form regardless of what I came up with. I don’t use pedals or anything, so I just plugged into the amp and that was it – it was all over and done with very quickly. I went in and they ran the track and I did it once and went back into the control room and there was silence. And I thought I was going to have to do it again or something. But it was not the case.

This was a turning point for me, because I was able to, in later life, look back on it and say, “That’s what I did for Paul McCartney. I gave him that solo.” But it came from somewhere else and through me to Paul, and this is what flabbergasted him. And not having worked like that before, it was a little new to him. I came out of the studio that day and I was a very happy man, because I had confronted this thing I knew was there, that hadn’t quite shown its head. And that was where I left me mark, you know.

Paul said to me last Christmastime in Dublin, the first time we met for 35 years or something, he says, “Henry, I’ve got to tell you, I cannot go anywhere, or regardless of where I go or what company I’m in, I cannot help but bring up your attitude to ‘My Love.'” Which was really nice of him to say.

Songfacts: When did you first meet Paul McCartney?

McCullough: 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.

Songfacts: I read something where Linda was saying that it was tough for Paul to keep you busy in the studio because he felt like he would have to write parts for you.

McCullough: I never heard that, but there would have been time spent while Paul was up at the desk. I mean, that comes with the territory. Sometimes you’d have to step back, go and make a cup of tea and hang around for an hour, possibly more. […]


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