Northern Ireland

Obituary: Henry McCullough

Henry McCullough Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Henry McCullough was invited by the former Beatle Paul McCartney to join his group Wings in the 1970s

The term 'rock troubadour' could have been invented for Henry McCullough.

A cursory glance at the artists the Northern Ireland musician performed or toured with is akin to looking at one of the finest jukeboxes from the 1960s.

Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Pink Floyd, Donovan, Ronnie Lane, Eric Burdon, the list rolls on like a banner poster from one of those legendary festivals of the era.

Fittingly, he was the only Irishman to play at Woodstock, as lead guitarist with Joe Cocker and the Grease Band.

McCullough grew up in the sleepy seaside resort of Portstewart, County Londonderry, cutting his teeth with showband the Skyrockets.

However, it was when he linked up with The People, who later became Eire Apparent, that his career took off.

Signed by a former member of The Animals, Chas Chandler, the group toured with Jimi Hendrix in Britain and the US.

McCullough also experienced life as a producer with the band, but reportedly left after expressing disappointment at being asked to wear "fancy hats and boots".

James Bond

He had a short spell with the innovative Irish traditional group Sweeney's Men, who were lauded at the 1968 Cambridge Folk Festival, before he linked up with Sheffield blues singer Joe Cocker.

As well as that performance at Woodstock in 1969, McCullough also played with The Grease Band on a number of Cocker's albums including his debut, With A Little Help From My Friends.

He was invited to join Wings in 1971 after auditioning for former Beatle Paul McCartney and spent 18 months recording and touring with the band.

Image copyright Associated Press
Image caption The guitarist performed with Joe Cocker at Woodstock in 1969

McCullough was praised for his guitar solo on the US Number one hit My Love. His distinctive fretwork also featured on the James Bond anthem Live and Let Die.

'Musical differences' were cited as the reason why he left Wings, with McCullough wanting a broader canvas in which to express his skills.

His solo album, Mind Your Own Business, was recorded on the Dark Horse label of another ex-Beatle, George Harrison.

The celebrated session musician moved back to Northern Ireland in the 1980s, but his career was put on hold when an accident with a knife severed tendons in his playing hand.

Following recuperation, he returned with Dublin group The Fleadh Cowboys, before forming his own band.

McCullough had received critical acclaim in recent years for albums such as Belfast to Boston and Poor Man's Moon.

Image caption Jimi Hendrix was one of the leading musicians Henry McCullough toured with during his career

Although his voice featured on Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon and he played on the original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar, the bluesman was always true to his roots.

His talents may have taken him around the world, but McCullough was comfortable jamming on a Portstewart bar stool. It was the music that mattered.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites