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Beatle Paul McCartney pays tribute to former Wings guitarist and Northern Ireland music legend Henry McCullough who has died

By Jonny Bell

Published 14/06/2016

Henry McCullough pictured in Rosemary Street First Presbyterian Church. Pic David Fitzgerald.
Henry McCullough pictured in Rosemary Street First Presbyterian Church. Pic David Fitzgerald.
Henry McCullough pictured in Rosemary Street First Presbyterian Church. Pic David Fitzgerald
Guitar legend Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough at the Belfast City Blues Festival 2012. Pacemaker Arthur Allison
Guitar legend Henry McCullough has died.

The former Wings guitarist and Northern Ireland music legend Henry McCullough has died.

The 72-year-old was from Portstewart and was one of Paul McCartney’s favourites in the early days of Wings.

Born in 1943, he took up the guitar as a boy. He supported Jimi Hendrix and went on to play with some of the biggest names in music, including Joe Cocker and then Paul McCartney & Wings.

He played lead guitar on Wings' James Bond theme Live and Let Die, but he is perhaps best known for his solo on the band's number one hit My Love.

After leaving Wings after just one album he later turned to session work with major stars.

He also played with Marianne Faithfull, Dr Feelgood and Pink Floyd and played the original Peace and Love Festival at Woodstock.

McCullough also sang and wrote music but one of the renowned guitarist's more memorable contributions to music was a few choice words for Pink Floyd.

When playing with Wings at Abbey Road studios in London, members of the English band stopped off from their own recording session next door and asked for a few soundbites for their album Dark Side of the Moon.

McCullough's line: "I don't know, I was really drunk at the time," found its way into the closing bars of the famous track Money.

Beatle Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Mr McCullough.

Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough from Portstewart, legendary rock guitarist. Henry travelled the world playing with Wings-Paul McCartney, Joe Cocker at Woodstock in 1969 and a host of world famous artists across the world. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
02.05.12. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD Henry McCullough pictured in Rosemary Street First Presbyterian Church
Pacemaker Press Belfast 05-07-2012: Belfast City Blues Festival 2012. We are delighted with this year's lineup and the great venues. This year we have all our great Festival favourites taking to the stage in the likes of RAB MCCULLOUGH, ,HENRY MCCULLOUGH and now the legendary REV DOC too. Now into it's fourth year the Belfast City Blues Festival is going from strength to strength. Pictured at the launch Henry McCullough. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Musical maestro Henry McCullough, performing in The Waterside Theatre at the Jazz Festival in Derry. Picture. Maurice Thompson. 6/5/07.
Henry McCullough ex wings guitarist. At Aul Lamas Fair.
Singer Musician Henry McCullough April 2003

"I was very sad to hear that Henry McCullough, our great Wings guitarist, passed away today," he posted on his website.

"He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humour.

"The solo he played on 'My Love' was a classic that he made up on the spot in front of a live orchestra. Our deepest sympathies from my family to his."

Elsewhere, his lead guitar on stage with Joe Cocker and The Grease Band on day three of Woodstock is the stuff of legend as they put on an electrifying performance of The Beatles' hit With a Little Help from My Friends.

He also toured extensively with his own band.

Over recent years Mr McCullough had suffered ill health.

A concert was organised in Dublin to help raise funds for his ongoing care.

Well-known Irish musicians, many of whom worked alongside McCullough, played Vicar Street for a special Salute To Henry fundraising concert.

Among the artists taking part were Christy Moore, Declan Sinnott, Mick Flannery, John Spillane, Johnny Duhan, Honor Heffernan, The Ed Deane Band and The Kevin Doherty Band. Two bands for whom he played in the past, Sweeney's Men, and Fleadh Cowboys, are also part of the line-up.

The gig was organised by Pete Cummins of Fleadh Cowboys and ex-Pogues manager Frank Murray.

On Tuesday, his agent Nigel Martyn confirmed Mr McCullough's passing.

He said Henry's long-time French partner Josie said he had died that morning.

"She had lost her one true love," he said.

The couple had been living for several years in Ballywindelland, between Coleraine and Ballymoney in Co Antrim, in a home they fondly referred to as "Ballywonderland".

McCullough also played on the music for Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit Jesus Christ Superstar.

He played one of his last live performances in a small rock club in Draperstown, Co Londonderry a year before suffering a heart attack which left him incapacitated.

Mr Martyn added: "He had suffered severe brain damage and was left completely incapacitated for the last four years.

"But Josie has been incredible - the way she looked after him was absolutely out of this world."

Speaking in 2012 of his friend, the impresario Paul Charles said: "Henry has always been a superb musician, in demand and much loved."

"He played on the original Jesus Christ Superstar album before it ever became a hit musical.

”In his heyday he was always delighted to sit in at sessions with McCartney who eventually persuaded him to join Wings. He played lead guitar on their hit My Love."

Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.

Tributes have been made to Mr McCullough on social media.






 

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