Ian McCulloch (singer)

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Ian McCulloch
Ian McCulloch2.jpg
McCulloch in Shibuya, Tokyo
Background information
Birth nameIan Stephen McCulloch
Born (1959-05-05) 5 May 1959 (age 63),
Liverpool, England
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, percussion
Years active1977–present
Website https://ianmcculloch.info/

Ian Stephen McCulloch, (born 5 May 1959) is an English singer-songwriter and musician, best known as the lead vocalist of the rock band Echo & the Bunnymen. [2]



McCulloch in Amsterdam in 2006 IanMcCulloch.jpg
McCulloch in Amsterdam in 2006
Ian McCulloch with Echo & the Bunnymen at the Festival Internacional de Benicassim 2016 Echo The Bunymen.jpg
Ian McCulloch with Echo & the Bunnymen at the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim 2016

McCulloch was a singer-songwriter with the Crucial Three, one of many local bands that sprang up amongst the regulars who patronised a Liverpool club called Eric's in the late '70s. The other two members were Julian Cope and Pete Wylie who went on to form Wah!. The band existed between May and June 1977, and never got beyond rehearsals. [3] In July 1978, along with future members of the Teardrop Explodes – Cope, Mick Finkler and Paul Simpson – and drummer Dave Pickett, McCulloch formed A Shallow Madness. [3] [4] Again the band did not perform or record, but an acoustic version of the band, under the name 'Uh', played live twice. [3] The band split up in September 1978. [3]

In October 1978, McCulloch founded Echo & the Bunnymen with Will Sergeant (guitar), Les Pattinson (bass), and a drum machine (allegedly named Echo), making their live début at Eric's in November that year. [3] In October 1979, the Bunnymen exchanged the drum machine for Pete de Freitas on drums. With their line up solidified, the Bunnymen played in the late 1970s and early 1980s, releasing their critically praised debut album, Crocodiles in 1980, and the heavier, bass-driven Heaven Up Here in 1981. They released their third album Porcupine in 1983 with the lead single "The Cutter" finishing in the top 10 of the UK charts. Ocean Rain followed in 1984. Shortly before the album was released, McCulloch described Ocean Rain as "the greatest album ever made." [5] McCulloch later said: "When I sing 'The Killing Moon' I know there isn't a band in the world who's got a song anywhere near that." [6]

In 1988, McCulloch left the group to pursue a solo career under the impression the Bunnymen would be laid to rest, if only temporarily. [4] When the remaining Bunnymen continued using the name with new singer Noel Burke, the split became permanent with McCulloch referring to the band as "Echo & the Bogusmen". [7]

In 1990, McCulloch released the album Candleland which reflected a more mature outlook on the world, owing to the recent deaths of McCulloch's father [8] and Pete de Freitas, and peaked at number 18 on the UK Albums Chart. [4] It yielded two Modern Rock Tracks hits, "Proud to Fall" (No. 1 for 4 weeks) and "Faith and Healing". The album Mysterio was released in 1992 as the public's interest in the former Bunnyman was waning and sold less than its predecessor. [9] Shortly after, McCulloch left the public eye to devote more time to his family.

In 1993, McCulloch partnered with Johnny Marr of the Smiths, writing an album's worth of material. McCulloch has credited Marr with helping him regain his lost confidence and rejuvenating his desire to create music. [10] When it was suggested that Will Sergeant be brought in to work on the songs, the tapes were allegedly stolen from a courier van preventing Sergeant from offering any input. [11]

The rekindling of the relationship between McCulloch and Sergeant led to the formation of Electrafixion in 1994. [12] The band released the album Burned which peaked at number 38 in the UK and included the top-30 hit "Sister Pain". [4] The band soon found themselves performing set lists composed of half Electrafixion songs and half Echo & the Bunnymen songs.

In 1997, Echo & the Bunnymen reformed and released the album Evergreen to positive reviews and chart success. Evergreen made the top 10 of the UK Albums Chart and the single "Nothing Lasts Forever" reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. [13] The reformed Bunnymen have since recorded several further albums, the most recent being Meteorites which was released in 2014.

At the height of the Bunnymen's popularity, McCulloch earned the nickname "Mac the Mouth" due to a penchant for witty, blunt criticism of artists he deemed inferior, while proclaiming the Bunnymen's superiority. Targets of his observations included Bono of U2 and Julian Cope. More recently, in 2011, McCulloch said of Bono: "Had he been in Liverpool, he would have been laughed out of the place. U2 have never been liked in Liverpool. We know a fake when we see one." McCulloch said that during the early 1980s, Bono told him the Bunnymen could break America but only if they toured there for three months. McCulloch said: "Three months? I can't spend three minutes in Birkenhead without going daft, let alone America." [14]

In 1998, McCulloch teamed up with the Spice Girls, Tommy Scott of Space, and Simon Fowler of Ocean Colour Scene as 'England United' to record "Top of the World", the official song for Team England in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, although it fared less well than a reissue of "Three Lions". He enjoyed more success working as a mentor for Coldplay during the recording of their 2002 album A Rush of Blood to the Head . [15]

In 2003, McCulloch released his third solo album Slideling and undertook a solo tour in support of the album.

McCulloch has been a lifetime supporter of Liverpool F.C. In 2006, he took part in recording the team's anthem with the Bootroom Allstars – a remake of the Johnny Cash song "Ring of Fire", and was on the judging panel for the music competition Pringles Unsung. [16]

In 2010, McCulloch featured in a guest role on the song "Some Kind of Nothingness" by the Manic Street Preachers from their tenth album Postcards from a Young Man . [17]

In 2012, McCulloch released a solo LP, Pro Patria Mori and a live album Holy Ghosts in 2013. [18] [19]

In October 2017, McCulloch featured on the Norwegian band A-ha's acoustic album MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice , singing "Scoundrel Days" and "The Killing Moon". The performance was recorded at Giske island in Norway in June 2017. [20]

Musical influences

McCulloch has cited Lou Reed, [21] Iggy Pop, [21] the Doors, [22] Leonard Cohen [23] and particularly David Bowie as influences for his work. He has described Cohen's song "Suzanne" as "the perfect lyric with the perfect melody" [24] and Bowie as "so influential and the greatest solo artist of the 20th Century in any walk of art." [25]

Personal life

In 1983, McCulloch married Lorraine Fox. They have two daughters, Candy and Mimi. [26] Candy appeared in the video for his solo single "Faith and Healing" when she was a young girl. The couple separated in late 2003. He was in a relationship with singer-songwriter Zoe Devlin, formerly of Alabama 3. They had a daughter, Dusty, but have now separated. [26]

McCulloch was brought up in the Norris Green area of Liverpool. [21] The road on which he originally lived, Parthenon Drive, is the title of a song contained in the 2005 Echo & the Bunnymen album, Siberia . He attended Alsop High School. [27]

McCulloch was featured in a YouTube video appeal in October 2010 which campaigned for Tom Hicks and George Gillett to be removed from Liverpool F.C. In a 2013 interview, McCulloch said that he was no longer attending Liverpool matches. [28]

McCulloch was diagnosed with obsessive–compulsive disorder as a child. [26]


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Echo & the Bunnymen</span> English rock band

Echo & the Bunnymen is an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson. By 1980, Pete de Freitas joined as the band's drummer.

The Crucial Three were a short-lived band that existed for approximately six weeks in early 1977. They are nevertheless notable on account of the individual success of all three founding members: Julian Cope formed The Teardrop Explodes and has enjoyed a long and successful solo career as an author, photographer and singer, Ian McCulloch formed the very successful Echo & the Bunnymen, while guitarist Pete Wylie formed Wah! Heat and enjoyed major chart success with "The Story of the Blues". In those early days, McCulloch sang, Cope played bass, and Wylie played guitar. A drummer, Stephen Spence, also joined at some point in their brief life.

<i>Crocodiles</i> (album) 1980 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Crocodiles is the debut album by the English post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released on 18 July 1980 in the United Kingdom and on 17 December 1980 in the United States. The album reached number 17 on the UK Albums Chart. "Pictures on My Wall" and "Rescue" had previously been released as singles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Killing Moon</span> Single by Echo & the Bunnymen

"The Killing Moon" is a song by the band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released on 20 January 1984 as the lead single from their 1984 album, Ocean Rain. It is one of the band's highest-charting hits, reaching number 9 in the UK Singles Chart, and often cited as the band's greatest song. Ian McCulloch has said: "When I sing 'The Killing Moon', I know there isn't a band in the world who's got a song anywhere near that." In a retrospective review of the song, Allmusic journalist Stewart Mason wrote: "The smart use of strings amplifies the elegance of the tune, bringing both a musical richness and a sense of quiet dignity to the tune."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Will Sergeant</span> Musical artist

William Alfred Sergeant is an English guitarist, best known for being a member of Echo & the Bunnymen. Born in Walton Hospital, he grew up in the village of Melling and attended nearby Deyes Lane Secondary Modern. He is the group's only constant member.

<i>Porcupine</i> (album) 1983 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Porcupine is the third studio album by the English post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen. First released on 4 February 1983, it became the band's highest-charting release when it reached number two on the UK Albums Chart despite initially receiving poor reviews. It also reached number 137 on the American Billboard 200, number 85 on the Canadian RPM 100 Albums and number 24 on the Swedish chart. In 1984, the album was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. The album includes the singles "The Back of Love" and "The Cutter."

<i>Echo & the Bunnymen</i> (album) 1987 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen is the fifth studio album by the English post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen, their last with drummer Pete de Freitas, who died in 1989 in a motorcycle accident, aged 27. The album was produced by Laurie Latham; the sessions took place in Germany, Belgium, London and Liverpool, following an aborted attempt at recording the tracks without de Freitas and with producer Gil Norton. With Latham being an exacting producer, and singer Ian McCulloch receiving star treatment and drinking heavily, the recording was more difficult than the band had initially hoped. The album made more use of keyboards than their previous albums, which had been string-heavy. Three singles were issued: "The Game", "Lips Like Sugar" and "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo".

<i>Reverberation</i> (album) 1990 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Reverberation is the sixth studio album by the English rock band Echo & the Bunnymen. The album was released amidst a line-up change for the group, due to the departure of vocalist Ian McCulloch and the death of drummer Pete de Freitas. The remaining members, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson, were joined by ex-St. Vitus Dance singer Noel Burke, keyboard player Jake Brockman and drummer Damon Reece. The album was produced by former Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick at Ridge Farm Studio in Surrey, England, and had a more pronounced psychedelic sound than the group's previous releases.

<i>Evergreen</i> (Echo & the Bunnymen album) 1997 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Evergreen is the seventh studio album by the English rock band Echo & the Bunnymen. It is their first album since reforming after they disbanded in 1993. Vocalist Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant had previously worked together as Electrafixion before they were rejoined by bassist Les Pattinson under the name Echo & the Bunnymen in early 1997. The album was recorded at Doghouse Studios in Henley-on-Thames and was produced by McCulloch and the band's manager Paul Toogood but was credited to the whole band.

<i>What Are You Going to Do with Your Life?</i> 1999 studio album by Echo & the Bunnymen

What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? is the eighth studio album by the English rock band Echo & the Bunnymen. The album saw the departure of bassist Les Pattinson from the group, partly due to disagreements with vocalist Ian McCulloch; McCulloch and the remaining band member, guitarist Will Sergeant, subsequently recorded the record with session musicians. The London Metropolitan Orchestra provided backing music and the American rap rock band Fun Lovin' Criminals appeared as guest musicians on two tracks. The album was produced by Alan Douglas and Echo & the Bunnymen and it was recorded at various locations throughout England. Feeling sidelined during the recording of the album, Sergeant described it as "probably the worst time in my whole life".

<i>Songs to Learn & Sing</i> 1985 compilation album by Echo & the Bunnymen

Songs to Learn & Sing is a compilation album by Echo & the Bunnymen which was released on 11 November 1985 and featured all of the singles the band had released up to that point. Released on LP, cassette and CD by Korova, WEA and Sire Records, the album received positive reviews and reached number six on the UK Albums Chart and number 158 on the US Billboard 200.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Les Pattinson</span> Musical artist

Leslie Thomas Pattinson is an English musician, best known for his work as the bassist and co-writer of the Liverpool-based band Echo & the Bunnymen, along with vocalist Ian McCulloch and guitarist Will Sergeant. He was brought up in Aughton, Lancashire and attended nearby Deyes High School in Maghull, where he and Sergeant were classmates and became friends.

<i>Candleland</i> 1989 studio album by Ian McCulloch

Candleland is the debut solo album by Ian McCulloch, released 17 September 1989. This album marked McCulloch's departure from Echo & the Bunnymen in 1989. The album features a guest appearance by the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser on the title song, "Candleland". The producer, and McCulloch's main musical collaborator on the album was veteran producer, programmer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist Ray Shulman, bassist and main co-writer for noted 1970s progressive rock group Gentle Giant. The album reached number 18 on the UK Albums Chart and number 179 on the Billboard 200.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Echo & the Bunnymen discography</span>

The discography of Echo & the Bunnymen, an English post-punk band which formed in 1978, consists of thirteen studio albums, ten live albums, nine compilation albums, eight extended plays (EP), and thirty singles on Zoo Records; WEA and its subsidiaries, Korova, Sire Records, London Records and Rhino; Cooking Vinyl; and Ocean Rain Records, as well as five music VHS/DVDs, and twenty-two music videos.

<i>Shine So Hard</i> 1981 EP by Echo & the Bunnymen

Shine So Hard is a live 12" EP released by the band Echo & the Bunnymen on 10 April 1981. The EP reached number 37 on the UK Singles Chart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lips Like Sugar</span> 1987 single by Echo & the Bunnymen

"Lips Like Sugar" is a single by Echo & the Bunnymen which was released in August 1987. It was the second single from their 1987 eponymous album.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stormy Weather (Echo & the Bunnymen song)</span> 2005 single by Echo & the Bunnymen

"Stormy Weather" is a single by Echo & the Bunnymen which was released on 5 September 2005 on the Cooking Vinyl label. It was the first single to be released from the 2005 album, Siberia. It reached number 55 on the UK Singles Chart.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scissors in the Sand</span> 2006 single by Echo & the Bunnymen

"Scissors in the Sand" is a single by Echo & the Bunnymen which was released on 5 June 2006 on the Cooking Vinyl label. It was the third single to be released from the band's 2005 album, Siberia.

<i>Avalanche</i> (EP) 2000 EP by Echo & the Bunnymen

Avalanche is an EP that was released in October 2000 by Echo & the Bunnymen. The EP was released on CD by Gimme Music and was only available to buy on the internet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ian McCulloch discography</span>

The discography of the British singer Ian McCulloch consists of four studio albums, one compilation album, and nine singles. While he was still the lead singer of the band Echo & the Bunnymen, McCulloch released his debut solo single, a version of the standard "September Song", in 1984 which reached number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart.


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