Henry McCullough

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Not to be confused with Henry Eustace McCulloch.
Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough in the studio in 2008.jpg
Henry McCullough in the studio in 2008
Background information
Born (1943-07-21) 21 July 1943 (age 71)
Portstewart, Northern Ireland
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Years active 1961–present
Associated acts Éire Apparent,
The Grease Band,
Spooky Tooth,
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-335, Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

Henry Campbell Liken McCullough (born 21 July 1943, Portstewart) is a Northern Irish guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, who has played guitar in such bands as Sweeney's Men, Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney & Wings, and The Grease Band. He turned up in many different places as sideman or a performer in his own right. In 2008, he recorded Poor Man's Moon, featuring the single, "Too Late to Worry."

Early career[edit]

McCullough first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. 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.

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, despite only having one single released, 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. Things went well until, in Vancouver, Canada in mid February 1968, while the band was touring with The Animals, McCullough was busted for possession of marijuana and sent back to The United Kingdom (officially because of 'visa problems'), and Mick Cox flew out to take his place in the band.[1]

Back in Ireland McCullough joined what was primarily a folk group called Sweeney's Men, by May 1968.[2] Under his influence, however, they soon began to mix folk and rock, and are often regarded as the innovators of the folk/rock genre. After a year in Ireland, McCullough returned to London to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing group, the Grease Band. With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival.

McCullough played on The Grease Band's eponymous album after splitting with Cocker, and during his time with the band he also appeared as lead guitarist on the original 1970 recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar and on the progressive Spooky Tooth album The Last Puff.


In 1971 Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Seiwell. His guitar solo on "My Love" has been described as one of rock music’s greatest solos.[3] Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough move on the eve of the Band on the Run sessions. He spent two years in the band, playing lead guitar on "Hi, Hi, Hi", "Live and Let Die" as well as "My Love".

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, at the end of the song "Money". He was recalling a fight he had the night before with his wife.[4]

McCullough landed from his Wings experience into another two year gig alongside his friend Chris Stewart, keyboard player Mick "Wynder K. Frog" Weaver and drummer Stu Perry into the ironically very Joe Cocker sounding Frankie Miller Band. Miller's "Ain't Got No Money" featuring McCullough's guitar work inspired Bob Seger to write and record "The Fire Down Below".(cited Frankie Miller Band, "The Rock", Chrysalis Records 1975), Bob Seger (countless interviews, Capitol Records Publicity Department 1977-1979)

In 1975, McCullough released Mind Your Own Business, his only album on George Harrison's Dark Horse label.

McCullough then did some session work, and played concerts 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.[5]


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 some old friends, The Fleadh Cowboys, at their Sunday afternoon residency in The Lower Deck in Dublin, and soon decided to move 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 went to Poland, where he rehearsed with a band of Polish musicians for an upcoming tour. After the tour, they went into a recording studio and 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.


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 organized 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 late 2007, McCullough teamed up with Dave Sharp (ex Alarm) and together they enlisted Zoot Money on keyboards; Gary Fletcher on bass guitar; and Colin Allen on drums. In January 2008 The Hard Travelers performed their debut gig at The Cellars, Portsmouth.

In 2008 McCullough recorded Poor Man's Moon at Amberville Studios and it was released in Ireland only on 5 September 2008. It featured new McCullough compositions, and a number of songs co-written with poet Eamon Carr (of Horslips) including the single, "Too Late to Worry". Among the musicians featured on the album were James Delaney on keyboards; Roe Butcher on electric bass guitar; Nicky Scott on double bass and electric bass guitar; Enda Walsh on keyboards; Adie McIlduff on drums; Percy Robinson on dobro and pedal steel guitar and Peter McKinney on drums/sequencing.

In 2007/8 Henry teamed up with USA/Ireland Singer Songwriter and friend Jeff Greene of Acashic/Aurora Records to Record Greene's "Dark Nite of the Soul" album and other musical collaborations 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. McCartney publicly acknowledged McCullough's contribution to Wings.

On 13 March 2010, McCullough played the Fifestock Festival at the Inn at Lathones, Scotland. This festival was the last one undertaken at that venue, and McCullough's band headlined the event.


Henry McCullough was active in the European music scene. He played regular live gigs with artists such as Ed Deane, James Delaney, Noel Bridgeman, and John Quearney, among others.

In 2011 Henry collaborated with songwriter Paul Doherty and The Vals on the track 'Look to the One'. The song was a success, gaining much airplay worldwide. Henry contributed backing vocals and his signature guitar sound.

Henry suffered a heart attack in November 2012 leaving him in a critical condition.[6] His death was mistakenly reported on Ronan Collins's RTÉ Radio 1 show on 7 November.[citation needed] The BBC was forced to apologise after prematurely reporting his death.[7] In an interview with website Something Else, Denny Seiwell a former Wings drummer who played with McCullough in the Paul McCartney-led group, says it's doubtful McCullough will make a complete recovery.[8]


  • Gene and The Gents - "Puppet On A String" / "Sweet Little Sixteen" (1965)
  • Éire Apparent - "Follow Me" / "Here I Go Again" (January 1968)
  • Joe Cocker - With a Little Help from My Friends (April 1969, on four songs)
  • Joe Cocker - Joe Cocker! (November 1969)
  • Spooky Tooth - The Last Puff (July 1970)
  • Rosetta Hightower - Hightower (1970)
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (October 1970)
  • The Grease Band - The Grease Band (1971)
  • The Grease Band - Amazing Grease (1975, recorded 1970-71)
  • Jackie Flavelle - Admission Free (1972)
  • Wings - "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" (February 1972)
  • Wings - "Mary Had a Little Lamb" / "Little Woman Love" (May 1972)
  • Wings - "Hi, Hi, Hi" / "C Moon" (December 1972)
  • Wings - "My Love" / "The Mess (Live at The Hague)" (March 1973)
  • Wings - Red Rose Speedway (April 1973, on seven songs)
  • Wings - "Live and Let Die" / "I Lie Around" (June 1973)
  • Wings - "Helen Wheels" / "Country Dreamer" (October 1973, B-side only)
  • Dave Carlsen - Pale Horse (1973)
  • Joe Cocker - I Can Stand a Little Rain (August 1974, on two songs)
  • Andy Fairweather Low - Spider Jiving (1974)
  • Viola Wills - Soft Centres (retitled Without You) (1974)
  • Joe Cocker - Jamaica Say You Will (August 1975, on one song)
  • The Frankie Miller Band - The Rock (September 1975)
  • Bobby Harrison - Funkist (1975)
  • Gerry Lockran - Rags to Gladrags (1976)
  • Evita - Soundtrack (1976)
  • Roy Harper - Bullinamingvase (titled 'One Of Those Days In England' in US) (1977)
  • Marianne Faithfull - Faithless (retitled No Regrets in 2007) (1978)
  • Steve Ellis - The Last Angry Man (cassette only) (1978)
  • Ronnie Lane - See Me (1980)
  • Eric Burden - Darkness Darkness (1980)
  • Denny Laine - Japanese Tears (1980)
  • Roy Harper - Commercial Breaks (1994)(recorded 1977)
  • Various Artists - Alive in Belfast - The warehouse Sessions (1995)
  • Joe Cocker - On Air (1997) (recorded 1968)
  • Linda McCartney - Wide Prairie (November 1998) (recorded 1971)
  • Brendan Quinn - Small Town (2001)
  • Kevin Doherty - Sweet Water (2002)
  • Richard Gilpin - Beautiful Mistake (2002)
  • Rev. Neil Down - When a Wrong Turns Right (2003)
  • The Deans - The Deans (2006)
  • Brendan Quinn - Sinner Man (2008)
  • Jeff Greene - "Dark Nite of the Soul" (2008)
  • The Vals - Look to the One (2011)


  • Mind Your Own Business (1975)
  • All Shook Up (1982, maxi single)
  • Hell of A Record (May 1984)
  • Cut (1987)
  • Get In The Hole (1989, live)
  • Blue Sunset (1998)
  • Belfast To Boston (August 2001)
  • Unfinished Business (November 2002)
  • Live at the FBI (2007)
  • Poor Man's Moon (September 2008)
  • shabby road (February 2012)


  1. ^ Eric Burdon and The Animals, by Ross Hannan and Corry Arnold
  2. ^ Green Beat: The Forgotten Era Of Irish Rock, by Daragh O'Halloran (Brehon Press 2006)
  3. ^ "Rock: Henry McCullough". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  4. ^ Willman, Chris. "Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side’: 40 Years Later, 40 Mind-Blowing Facts About The Mad Classic". Stop the Presses!. Yahoo. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Moon, Tony (2002). Down By The Jetty - The Dr Feelgood Story (2nd ed.). Borden, Hants: Northdown Publishing Ltd. p. 60. ISBN 1-900711-15-X. 
  6. ^ "Wings guitarist Henry McCullough critically ill". BBC News. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "BBC apologises after announcing death of guitarist". Donegal Daily. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Henry McCullough Brain Damage: Ex-Wings Guitarist in Bad Condition After Heart Attack". AOL Music. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 

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