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Mourners say goodbye to Henry McCullough with music and songs

By Allan Preston

Published 20/06/2016

Dave Robinson (left) was one of the pallbearers
Dave Robinson (left) was one of the pallbearers
Henry McCullogh’s widow Josie is comforted during the funeral
Many mourners listened to the non-religious service from outside the funeral home
Henry McCullogh

Henry McCullough - the Portstewart guitar great who played with Paul McCartney in Wings, performed in front of 400,000 at Woodstock and toured with Jimi Hendrix - has been laid to rest.

At a non-religious service at Wades' funeral home in Coleraine, musician friends said goodbye by singing and performing his songs.

Around 130 mourners crammed inside while more than 60 others listened from outside the funeral home on Saturday.

As crowds followed the funeral cortege, Mr McCullough's widow Josie was comforted by family and friends.

Inside the hearse a note on a bouquet of flowers read: 'Condolences, Van Morrison'.

The guitarist's remains were later cremated at Belfast's Roselawn cemetery.

Musicians paying their respects included John Wilson and Jackie McCauley from Van Morrison's legendary band Them, as well original member of Celtic rockers Horslips, Eamon Carr.

Also attending was Terri Hooley, the Belfast founder of the famous Good Vibrations record store.

"It was great to see so many people there from the music industry and I think Henry got a great send-off," he said.

"I remember Henry when he was in Eire Apparent, way back in the 1960s when he was supporting the likes of Jimi Hendrix."

Many music industry figures had made the journey for the funeral service including Irish DJ and author BP Fallon as well as Dave Robinson from the independent label Stiff Records.

"You had all these people travelling from far and wide, only Henry could have got them in the same room," said Terri.

"Henry's service was a celebration of life," said Sam Hanna, an independent celebrant, who conducted the ceremony.

"There was live music and tributes from friends."

Robert Creelman from Wades' funeral home in Coleraine added: "From all the friends arriving for the service, you could clearly sense that rock and roll era he was part of.

"Growing up in Northern Ireland everyone knew Henry McCullough's name was associated with Wings and the music that they played."

The blues guitarist passed away peacefully at his home in Ballymoney last Tuesday aged 72.

His manager Nigel Martyn had said his health had been failing for some time and he never fully recovered from a heart attack four years ago.

His playing career had also saw him perform with singer Joe Cocker and the Grease Band as well as playing with Marianne Faithfull and Donovan.

On Tuesday, former Beatle Paul McCartney called McCullough's solo on the Wings track My Love a "classic that he made up on the spot" in front of a live orchestra.

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

An obituary notice last week read that he was the 'dearly beloved husband of Josie, father of much loved son Jesse and dear brother of Rae, Patsy, Eileen, Victor, Samuel, David and Maureen'.

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