Jimmy McCulloch

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Jimmy McCulloch
McCulloch on stage with Wings in 1976
McCulloch on stage with Wings in 1976
Background information
Born(1953-06-04)4 June 1953
Dumbarton, Scotland
Died27 September 1979(1979-09-27) (aged 26)
Maida Vale, London, England
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
  • bass
Years active1967–1979
Formerly of

James McCulloch (4 June 1953 – 27 September 1979) was a Scottish musician best known for playing lead guitar and bass, as a member of Paul McCartney's band Wings from 1974 to 1977. McCulloch was a member of the Glasgow psychedelic band One in a Million (formerly known as the Jaygars), Thunderclap Newman, and Stone the Crows.[1]

McCulloch also made appearances on many albums, including John Entwistle's Whistle Rymes in 1972, as lead guitarist playing alongside Peter Frampton on "Apron Strings" and "I Feel Better". McCulloch also played guitar on Roger Daltrey's album One of the Boys which was released in 1977. McCulloch was a friend of the Who and a member of the band Thunderclap Newman, which was created and produced by his mentor Pete Townshend. At age 11, he was also a protégé of the Shadows' Hank Marvin. His brother is drummer Jack McCulloch.


McCulloch was born in Dumbarton and raised in Clydebank and Cumbernauld, Scotland. He was inspired by Django Reinhardt and began to play the guitar aged 11. He made his performance debut as the guitarist for the Jaygars, which was later known as One in a Million. One in a Million performed live in support of The Who during their tour of Scotland in 1967. That year, One in a Million released their "Fredereek Hernando"/"Double Sight" single on MGM. The single is now highly collectable, and an expensive purchase, now classed as a classic and obscure UK psychedelic release. Double Sight, a CD compilation of these and other songs written and recorded by the band, was released in 2009.

The McCulloch family by then had relocated to London, when Jimmy was 13.

In April 1967, McCulloch played lead guitar for the Utterly Incredible, Too Long Ago to Remember, Sometimes Shouting at People during the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream event, which was held on the grounds of the Alexandra Palace in London.[2] That year, he played guitar for One in a Million, which performed live at The Upper Cut and other London venues.[3]

McCulloch first rose to fame in 1969 when he joined Pete Townshend's friends, Andy 'Thunderclap' Newman (piano) and songwriter John 'Speedy' Keen (vocals, drums), to form the band Thunderclap Newman. The band enjoyed a UK No. 1 hit with "Something in the Air" that year. Thunderclap Newman's album, Hollywood Dream, on which the title instrumental, written by McCulloch and his brother sold well but was not as successful as their hit single (reissues of the album include another McCulloch brothers song, "I See It All"). From January to mid-April 1971, the band toured England, Scotland, Holland, and Scandinavia and disbanded shortly thereafter.

In October 1971, McCulloch played guitar in concert with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in England, Scotland and Germany. On 31 October 1971 McCulloch's band Bent Frame made its performance debut in London. The band subsequently renamed itself the Jimmy McCulloch Band and toured England and Scotland in support of Leslie West's Mountain in February 1972. By then, McCulloch had done session work for Klaus Voormann, Harry Nilsson, Steve Ellis, John Entwistle, and others.[3]

In June 1972, McCulloch joined the blues rock band (and fellow Mayall-school alumni) Stone the Crows to replace guitarist Les Harvey, who had been electrocuted on stage.[4] McCulloch helped Stone the Crows to complete their Ontinuous Performance album by playing on the tracks "Sunset Cowboy" and "Good Time Girl". Stone the Crows disbanded in June 1973.

In 1973, McCulloch played guitar on John Keen's album, Previous Convictions, had a brief stint in Blue and played guitar on Brian Joseph Friel's debut album under the pseudonym 'The Phantom'.[5]

Paul McCartney & Wings and after[edit]

McCulloch and McCartney in 1976

McCulloch first met Paul McCartney in August 1973, after the departure of Henry McCullough.[6] McCulloch joined Wings in August 1974. His debut track with them was "Junior's Farm." McCulloch composed the music for the anti-drug song "Medicine Jar" on the album Venus and Mars and the similar "Wino Junko" on Wings at the Speed of Sound.[7] He also sang both. Colin Allen, who had been drummer for Stone the Crows, wrote lyrics for both songs.

During his time with Wings, McCulloch formed White Line with his brother Jack on drums and Dave Clarke on bass, keyboards, and vocals. They played several impromptu gigs and released a single, "Call My Name"/"Too Many Miles". A 13-track album, White Line – Complete, was released in 1994 on Clarke's Mouse Records.[8] Jimmy McCulloch and White Line appeared on the British television programme Supersonic on 27 November 1976. In addition, McCulloch recorded and produced two unreleased songs by The Khyber Trifles and had occasionally performed live (in London and their native Glasgow) with the band. Finally, as noted above, he played guitar on Roy Harper's album Bullinamingvase and Ricci Martin's album Beached, in 1977.

In September 1977, McCulloch left Wings to join the reformed Small Faces during the latter band's nine date tour of England that month.[9] He played guitar on the Small Faces' album, 78 in the Shade. In early 1978, McCulloch started a band called Wild Horses with Brian Robertson, Jimmy Bain and Kenney Jones, but both McCulloch and Jones left the band soon afterward. In 1979, McCulloch joined the Dukes. His last recorded song, "Heartbreaker", appeared on their only album, The Dukes.[3]

A melodic, heavily blues-infused guitarist, McCulloch normally used a Gibson SG and a Gibson Les Paul, and he occasionally played bass when McCartney, Wings' usual bassist, or Laine were playing piano or acoustic guitar, which he used Fender Precision or Fender Jazz basses. For acoustic guitar work, he used Ovation acoustic guitars.[10]

In 2021, an episode of BBC's The Repair Shop featured two platinum discs for Wings at the Speed of Sound and Wings over America, presented to McCulloch for his work with Wings, which were taken for restoration by his cousin.[11][12]


On 27 September 1979, McCulloch was found dead by his brother in his flat in Maida Vale, London.[13] An autopsy found that McCulloch died of heart failure due to morphine and alcohol poisoning. He was 26 years old.

The concert film Rockshow, from Wings' 1976 North American tour, was released in late 1980, more than a year after McCulloch's death.


  1. ^ ""Jimmy McCulloch" by Miguel Terol". The Musicians' Olympus. 11 November 1997. Archived from the original on 18 December 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  2. ^ Article: Bell: Performance puzzling...and a plastic past, by Ian McDonald, New Musical Express, issue dated 25 November 1972.
  3. ^ a b c Rock Obituaries: Knocking On Heaven's Door. ISBN 978-1-846-09091-2. p. 408.
  4. ^ Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings. ISBN 978-0-878-33304-2. p. 120.
  5. ^ The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. ISBN 978-0-718-12400-7. p. 1005.
  6. ^ Kozinn, Allan; Sinclair, Adrian (13 December 2022). The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1: 1969 – 73. HarperCollins. p. 605. ISBN 978-0-06-300072-8. Retrieved 27 February 2023.
  7. ^ Reid, Graham (20 February 2019). "Wings at the Speed of Sound Considered" – via elsewhere.co.nz.
  8. ^ "Jimmy McCulloch". Mouserecords.kastoffkinks.co.uk. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  9. ^ Band on the Run: A History of Paul McCartney and Wings. ISBN 978-0-878-33304-2. p. 114.
  10. ^ "Jimmy McCulloch's Equipboard". Equipboard.com. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  11. ^ "Legendary Scots guitarist who played with Paul McCartney remembered on top TV show". Daily Record. 18 March 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  12. ^ "The Repair Shop, Series 7 Episode 4". BBC One. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  13. ^ McCartney: Songwriter. ISBN 0-491-03325-7. p. 121.