- Published by:
- New Musical Express
- Interview by:
- James Johnson
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From January 17 to 28, 1972, Wings – composed of Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell – rehearsed in anticipation of future live performances and to start working on their second album.
On January 18, guitarist Henry McCullough was invited to the rehearsals.
ONLY two days after the sad break-up of the Grease Band, guitarist Henry McCullough had a call from the McCartney camp asking him to join Wings for a rehearsal. Two rehearsals later, McCullough was asked to join the band and is now a fully-fledged member.
McCullough, a gruff Irishman, is too experienced a musician to get over-excited about joining a new band, even if that band happens to include Paul McCartney. But obviously last week he was pleased by the recent turn of events. He told the story like this.
“In fact it was Paul’s roadie who rang, saying do you fancy sitting in? After the Grease Band, I didn’t know what the hell was going on so I went down and had a play. That was Tuesday and afterwards, things were left at that – nothing was said. Then I had another call on Thursday to go down again and afterwards, Paul said, ‘Do you want to join our group?'”
“Although I knew Denny Laine I’d never met McCartney before. Once I got used to seeing him there in person, he turned out to be a great bloke. I guess I was a bit nervous but I had a couple of pints of Guinness before I went along the first time. That helped.”
What kind of material were they playing at the rehearsals?
“There was a lot of rock things like “Lucille” and “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, plus some things off the ‘Wild Life’ album. Also there were a couple of new ones he’d written. On one song, he was kinda 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.”
On some subjects, McCullough was understandably reluctant to talk. As yet he feels it’s not his place to comment on McCartney’s future plans and when asked about McCartney’s talent and the much-criticised “Wild Life” album he spoke nothing but praise. Really, you could hardly expect otherwise.
“l thought the Wild Life album was great,” he said. “I played it a lot before I got the offer. I know McCartney’s often been criticised but he’s a great musician. He’s full of ideas. At the rehearsals, he showed tremendous drive. The energy he’s got is incredible.”
Why did he think McCartney wanted another guitarist in the band?
“Originally Denny Laine was going to be lead guitarist, and vocalist as well. Then there was Linda on keyboards. Denny Seiwell on drums and Paul was on bass and vocals. They’d been rehearsing with this line-up to do some live appearances but I think Denny Laine felt a bit restricted playing guitar and singing at the same time. He probably felt he couldn’t do both well. I mean, I used to feel the same in the Grease Band. Now with Wings, I’ll be playing lead guitar leaving Denny to concentrate on second guitar and vocals.”
The addition of McCullough to the line-up might suggest a heavier emphasis on rock in the future. But McCartney’s roadie who was sitting in on the interview didn’t really agree. Although he was in no way speaking for McCartney, as one of the closest observers of the band his opinions are of interest.
According to him, “McCartney wants to play everything. Surely that’s the point of music – to have enough different material to play to audiences of twelve-year-olds or old-age pensioners. Paul just wants to play the whole lot – heavy numbers, rock numbers, ballads – everything.”
Will he be writing any material for Wings?
“It’s a bit early to say yet. Certainly, I’ll continue writing on my own anyway. But I do want to take part in the band as fully possible. That’s the way Paul wants it. He’s leaving things pretty free.
“I’m sure he wants people to contradict him sometimes just as you would in any group. He doesn’t want it to be just Paul McCartney’s band. He wants everybody to contribute as much as himself. I’m going into it with that thought in mind.”