Henry McCullough

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Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough in the studio in 2008.jpg
Henry McCullough in the studio in 2008
Background information
Birth nameHenry Campbell Liken McCullough
Born(1943-07-21)21 July 1943
Portstewart, Northern Ireland
Died14 June 2016(2016-06-14) (aged 72)
Ballywindelland, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland
Genres Rock
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Years active1961–2016
Associated acts Éire Apparent, the Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, Wings, Frankie Miller, Joe Cocker

Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (21 July 1943 – 14 June 2016) [1] 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.

Spooky Tooth were an English rock band. Principally active between 1967 and 1974, the band re-formed several times in later years.

The Grease Band band

The Grease Band was a British rock band that originally formed as Joe Cocker's backing group. They appeared with Cocker during the 1960s, including his performance at the Woodstock Festival in August 1969. The band's name derived from an interview Cocker had read with the American jazz organist Jimmy Smith, who had approvingly described another performer as having "a lot of grease", with "grease" referring to soul. After Cocker formed the Mad Dogs & Englishmen album band line-up, the group released two albums without him in the 1970s.

Paul McCartney and Wings Band from England

Paul McCartney and Wings, also known simply as Wings, were a British-American rock band formed in 1971 by former Beatle Paul McCartney with his wife Linda on keyboards, session drummer Denny Seiwell, and former Moody Blues guitarist Denny Laine. Wings were noted for frequent personnel changes as well as commercial success, going through three lead guitarists and four drummers. However, the core trio of the McCartneys and Laine remained intact throughout the group's existence.


Early life

McCullough was born in Portstewart, [2] and first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with the Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. McCullough was Protestant [3] 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.

Portstewart small town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Portstewart is a small town in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. It had a population of 8,003 people in the 2011 Census. It is a seaside resort neighbouring Portrush. Its harbour and scenic coastal paths form an Atlantic promenade leading to 2 miles of golden strand. Portstewart is probably best known for this sandy beach, popular with surfers.

The Irish showband is a dance band format which was popular in Ireland mid-1950s to the mid-1980s, though some showbands have survived until the present day. The showband was based on the internationally popular six- or seven-piece dance band. The band's basic repertoire included standard dance numbers and covers of pop music hits. The versatile music ranged from rock and roll and country and western songs to traditional dixieland jazz and even Irish Céilí dance, Newfie stomps, folk music and waltzes. Key to a showband's popular success was the ability to perform songs currently in the record charts. Some bands also did comedy skits onstage.

Enniskillen town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland

Enniskillen is a town and civil parish in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. It is located almost exactly in the centre of the county, between the Upper and Lower sections of Lough Erne. It had a population of 13,823 at the 2011 Census. It was the seat of local government for the former Fermanagh District Council, and is the county town of Fermanagh as well as its largest town.

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.

Chas Chandler English musician, record producer and band manager

Bryan James "Chas" Chandler was an English musician, record producer and manager, best known as the original bassist in The Animals. He also managed the band Slade and Jimi Hendrix, about whom he was regularly interviewed until his death in 1996.

Eire Apparent were a band from Northern Ireland, noted for launching the careers of Henry McCullough and Ernie Graham, and for having Jimi Hendrix play on, and produce, their only album.

Pink Floyd English rock band

Pink Floyd were an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They emerged from London's underground music scene during the late 1960s, and became one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history. Initially gaining a following as a psychedelic rock band, they subsequently became a leading band of the progressive rock genre and were distinguished for their extended compositions, sonic experimentation, philosophical lyrics, and elaborate live shows.

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. [4] Back in Ireland, around May 1968, McCullough joined folk group Sweeney's Men. [5]

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Sweeney's Men was an Irish traditional band. They emerged from the mid-1960s Irish roots revival, along with groups such as The Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers. The founding line-up in May 1966 was Johnny Moynihan, Andy Irvine and "Galway Joe" Dolan.


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. [1] [6] 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). [7]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Joe Cocker English rock and blues singer

John Robert Cocker, better known as Joe Cocker, was an English singer. He was known for his gritty voice, spasmodic body movement in performance, and distinctive versions of popular songs of varying genres.

Andrew Lloyd Webber British composer and impresario of musical theatre

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer and impresario of musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 13 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass. Several of his songs have been widely recorded and were hits outside of their parent musicals, notably "The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from Evita, "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and "Memory" from Cats. In 2001 The New York Times referred to him as "the most commercially successful composer in history". Ranked the "fifth most powerful person in British culture" by The Daily Telegraph in 2008, the lyricist Don Black stated "Andrew more or less single-handedly reinvented the musical."

In 1971 Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell. Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough leave on the eve of the Band on the Run sessions. He had spent two years in the band, playing lead guitar on "Hi, Hi, Hi", "Live and Let Die" as well as "My Love". [7]

Denny Laine British rock musician

Denny Laine is an English musician, singer, and songwriter known as a founder of two major British rock bands: The Moody Blues, with whom he played from 1964 to 1966, and Paul McCartney and Wings, with whom he played from 1971 to 1981. Laine has worked with a variety of artists and groups over a six decade career, and continues to record and perform as a solo artist. In 2018, Laine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues.

Denny Seiwell is an American drummer and a founding member of Paul McCartney and Wings. He also drummed for Billy Joel and Liza Minnelli and played in the scores for the films Waterworld, Grease II, and Vertical Limit. His drumming was used in TV shows like Happy Days and Knots Landing.

<i>Band on the Run</i> Album by Paul McCartney and Wings

Band on the Run is the third studio album by Paul McCartney and Wings, released in December 1973. It was McCartney's fifth album after leaving the Beatles in April 1970. Although sales were modest initially, its commercial performance was aided by two hit singles – "Jet" and "Band on the Run" – such that it became the top-selling studio album of 1974 in the United Kingdom and Australia, in addition to revitalising McCartney's critical standing. It remains McCartney's most successful album and the most celebrated of his post-Beatles works.

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. [8]

In 1975 McCullough joined the Frankie Miller Band with bassist Chris Stewart, keyboard player Mick Weaver and drummer Stu Perry. They recorded the album, The Rock with Miller. Later the same year McCullough released Mind Your Own Business on George Harrison's Dark Horse label. [7]

McCullough played concerts as a session musician with Roy Harper, Frankie Miller, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull, Ronnie Lane and Donovan. In 1977 he temporarily joined Dr. Feelgood, following the departure of Wilko Johnson. [9]


Recovering from an injury to his hand while visiting his family in 1980, McCullough decided to stay in Ireland. He began to sit in with old friends the Fleadh Cowboys, at their Sunday afternoon residency in The Lower Deck in Dublin. Following this he moved back to Portstewart and put a new band together. He was joined by Percy Robinson on pedal steel guitar, Roe Butcher on bass and Liam Bradley on drums.


In 1998 McCullough travelled to Poland, where he rehearsed with a band of Polish musicians for a tour. After the tour, they recorded a 'live' album which was released as Blue Sunset. This was followed by a further Polish tour. On returning home, McCullough recorded and released "Failed Christian", a song that has since been covered by Nick Lowe on his album Dig My Mood . [10]


McCullough continued to record and perform and released solo material, including Belfast To Boston (2001) and Unfinished Business (2003). The latter contained his 1998 single, "Failed Christian". McCullough performed at concerts in Northern Ireland and Scotland, playing with a backing band (featuring Stephen Quinn on drums and Sean McCarron on saxophone).

McCullough contributed guitar on and organised the band for the Alaskan musician, The Rev Neil Down's 2003 release, When A Wrong Turns Right. The Henry McCullough Band – FBI Live was released in 2007 on Mundell music, from a recording at The Famous Bein Inn in 2006.

In 2007, Over the Rhine covered "Failed Christian" on their album, Live from Nowhere, Vol. II. In the same year, McCullough started to work with Dave Sharp from the Alarm) and together they enlisted keyboard player Zoot Money, bassist Gary Fletcher and drummer Colin Allen, a line up which became known as the Hard Travelers. In January 2008 the Hard Travelers performed their debut gig at The Cellars in Portsmouth.

In 2008 McCullough recorded Poor Man's Moon at Amberville Studios, which was released in Ireland only on 5 September 2008. and featured new McCullough compositions. The album also included a number of songs co-written with poet Eamon Carr from Horslips and included the single "Too Late to Worry". Among the musicians featured on the album were keyboard player James Delaney, bassists Roe Butcher and Nicky Scott (also double bass), keyboard player Enda Walsh, drummer Adie McIlduff and Percy Robinson on dobro and pedal steel guitar. The album also included drum sequences by Peter McKinney.

At the end of 2007 he worked on the album "Dark Nite of the Soul" with Jeff Greene as well as other musical collaborations recorded at Wind-Mill Lane Studios, Dublin Metropolis Studios London and The Sound Kitchen Nashville. McCullough attended Paul McCartney's concert at the O2 in Dublin on 20 December 2009 and McCartney publicly acknowledged McCullough's contribution to Wings. On 13 March 2010, McCullough and his band were the headline act at the Fifestock Festival at the Inn at Lathones, Scotland. [11]


McCullough remained active in the European music scene and played regular live gigs with artists including Ed Deane, James Delaney, Noel Bridgeman, also John Quearney. In 2011 Henry collaborated with songwriter Paul Doherty and the Vals on the track 'Look to the One'. The song gained worldwide airplay, with McCullough contributing backing vocals and guitar. [12]

McCullough suffered a heart attack in November 2012, leaving him in critical condition. [13] His death was mistakenly reported on Ronan Collins's RTÉ Radio 1 show on 7 November and the BBC also apologised after prematurely reporting his death. [14] In an interview with website Something Else, Denny Seiwell, who had played with McCullough in Wings, stated that it was doubtful McCullough would make a complete recovery. [15]

On 17 March 2015 a benefit concert for Henry McCullough was held at The Half Moon, Putney music venue, featuring Paul Carrack, Nick Lowe, Andy Fairweather Low, Suggs and Bobby Tench (who also performed with the backing band). [16] The backing band was entitled Henry's Heroes and included Tim Hinkley, Mel Collins, Neil Hubbard and John Halsey [17] and bass player Kuma Harada. [18]

On 14 June 2016, his wife Josie confirmed that he had died at his home at Ballywindelland, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, earlier that morning after a long illness. He had never fully recovered from the heart attack he suffered in 2012. [19] Some sources state he also suffered a major stroke. [20] [21]


Solo albums

Other album credits

Credits on singles

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