Believe it or not, Wings had two lead guitarists with similar names: Henry McCullough and Jimmy McCulloch.
Henry McCullough, a native of County Derry in Northern Ireland, died 14 June 2016 at the age of 72. He had been the only Irishman to play at Woodstock, having backed Joe Cocker there. The first Wings single, “Give Ireland back to the Irish” was banned by the BBC for its political content but hit # 1 on the charts in the Republic of Ireland. As a result, McCullough’s brother was jumped by a gang of thugs one night when leaving a bar in Derry. Some people think that McCullough’s solo on the international hit “My Love” is among the best guitar solos in rock history. Joining Wings at the beginning, McCullough left within two years because of artistic differences. His only album with the group was Red Rose Speedway, and he departed after the recording of the single Live and Let Die for the James Bond film of the same name.
After the successful Wings album Band on the Run, Jimmy McCulloch joined as lead guitarist and stayed with Wings from 1974-1977. A Glasgow native, he was the “boy wonder” guitarist of the band Thunderclap Newman which had the hit “Something in the Air”, which was produced by McCulloch’s friend Pete Townsend. McCulloch was with Wings for the albums Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound. On Venus and Mars, he both co-wrote the song “Medicine Jar” with Colin Allen and provided lead vocals on the track. On Wings at the Speed of Sound, which included the number one hits “Let ‘Em In” and “Silly Love Songs”, McCulloch co-wrote “Wino Junko” with Colin Allen in addition to handling lead vocal chores.
Jimmy McCulloch played on the single “Mull of Kintyre”, which is still the best-selling non-charity single in UK history, but left early in the making of the album London Town, which saw an early 1978 release. A previous article on this blog, “‘Mull of Kintyre’ Is the Top Song in the History of the UK but Remains Unknown in the U.S.” gives an explanation of the 1977 phenomenal number one hit in the UK.
In 1976, prior to a rehearsal for the Wings Over America tour, McCulloch broke his wrist backstage in the dressing room while wrestling with David Cassidy. His broken wrist held up the start of the tour for a couple of weeks. Two years after leaving Wings in 1977, McCulloch was found dead in his London flat at age 25. An autopsy later revealed that he died from morphine and alcohol poisoning. This is the New York Times obituary of McCulloch.
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