Tuesday 27 September 2016

Sir Paul McCartney leads tributes to guitarist Henry McCullough

Published 14/06/2016 | 15:56

Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough has died (Ronnie Norton/AP)
Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough has died (Ronnie Norton/AP)
Henry McCullough recorded with Wings at Abbey Road studios in London

Sir Paul McCartney has paid a glowing tribute to his late Wings bandmate Henry McCullough.

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The renowned guitarist, who also played with Joe Cocker and jammed with Jimi Hendrix, died on Tuesday, four years after a severe heart attack left him incapacitated.

McCullough, 72, originally from Portstewart, Northern Ireland, was said to have been the only Irish musician to have played at the famous Woodstock festival in 1969.

And while he may not have been a household name, he counted Marianne Faithfull and The Who among those he jammed with.

He also played lead guitar on Wings' James Bond theme, Live And Let Die.

Perhaps best known for his solo on the band's number one hit My Love, Sir Paul gave a little insight into McCullough's enduring talent and originality.

"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," he said.

Belfast-based music promoter and agent Nigel Martyn spoke to the guitarist's French wife Josie following his death.

"I have just spoken to Josie who has informed me that Henry passed away at home this morning. Josie said that she has 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".

Sir Paul sent a heartfelt message from his tour in Germany.

" He was a pleasure to work with, a super talented musician with a lovely sense of humour," the former Beatle said.

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 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 one of the record's best-known tracks, Money.

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 performed an electrifying version o f The Beatles' hit With A Little Help From My Friends.

McCullough also played on Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

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

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

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

Funeral arrangements are to be announced later.

Denny Seiwell, drummer and founding member of Wings, posted a series of photos on Twitter of him with his old bandmate.

He said: "My dear friend and brother Henry McCullough passed away. His battle is over. Keep his wife Josie in your thoughts he will be missed."

Press Association

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