The Music Lounge

“I was Really Drunk at the Time”

The life and death of Henry McCullough…..

hmcHenry McCullough, former guitarist of Paul McCartney’s post Beatles band, Wings has died at the age of seventy two. A softly spoken, unassuming man with a wonderful musical talent he would, rather sadly, be best known for his unknowing contribution to a rock anthem. It was during a day’s recording session with McCartney at Abbey Road studios that McCullough walked into the adjacent studio to see Roger Waters working on Pink Floyd’s latest album, Dark Side of the Moon. Upon being asked a question by Waters who had recording tapes running, McCullough simply answered “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time“. A year later and unbeknownst to McCulloch those words would become a memorable part of the track Money and seal his part in rock music legend.

Whilst he couldn’t remember what Waters had asked him about he deserves to be remembered for his musical career rather than a famous throw-away line. Here was a guitarist who played on Joe Cocker’s legendary set at Woodstock, featured on albums by Marianne Faithfull and Donovan, played on Jesus Christ Superstar and jammed with Jimi Hendrix.

His relationship with McCartney was interesting to say the least, his two year spell with Wings was seldom without incident.  One night whilst on tour in Stockholm McCartney was challenged by a man claiming to have a gun and threatening to kill him. McCullough pulled out a knife hidden in his boot and fought the man to the ground. During the recording of one of the band’s biggest hits My Love, he refused to play the solo McCartney had written and in one take produced the much acclaimed improvisation which saw the song reach number one in the charts.

McCullough never agreed with the inclusion of McCartney’s wife Linda who he saw as an amateur musician. He fell out with McCartney for the final time in 1973 shortly before recording on Band on the Run was due to start. It would signal the end of his career with high profile musicians and lead to a life beset with drink and drug addiction which he eventually recovered from.

McCullough never missed the limelight and was happiest playing with like-minded musicians in smaller venues, he loved the Irish-Folk music from his birthplace in Londonderry and left a mark with musicians who recognised talent before fame.

Henry McCullough 1943-2016

Categories: The Music Lounge

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