Henry McCullough

Henry McCullough

Infobox musical artist

Name = Henry McCullough
| Img_capt = Henry McCullough in the studio in 2008 (Ronnie Norton, photographer)
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Born = 21 July, 1943
Portstewart, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Died =
Alias =
Genre = Rock
Occupation = Musician
Instrument = Guitar
Associated_acts = Spooky Tooth, The Grease Band, Wings
Label =
Years_active = 1962 - present
URL = [http://www.henrymccullough.com/ henrymccullough.com]
Notable_instruments = Gibson ES-335

Henry McCullough (born 21 July 1943) is a guitarist, who has played guitar in such bands as Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney's Wings, and The Grease Band. Born in Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Henry McCullough is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, and is the only Irishman to play the Woodstock Festival (backing Joe Cocker). He turns up in many different places as sideman or a performer in his own right. In 2008, he recorded "Poor Man's Moon", featuring the single "Too Late to Worry."


McCullough first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. In 1964, with three other members of The Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and The Gents. McCullough then returned to his first love, rhythm and blues, replacing Mike Cox in Portadown group The People. They built up a huge following all over Ireland, and when they were signed in 1967 by (former bassist with The Animals) Chas Chandler’s management team, they changed the group’s name to Éire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance, they toured Britain on the same bill as groups such as Pink Floyd, The Move and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. McCullough’s career took an unusual twist when he moved back to Ireland and joined what was primarily a folk group called Sweeney's Men. Under his influence, however, they soon began to mix folk and rock, and are often regarded as the innovators of the folk/rock genre.

Following a year in Ireland, returned to London to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing group, The Grease Band (also playing on their eponymous LP minus Cocker.) With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival. Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Sewell. His guitar solo on "My Love" is regarded by many as one of rock music’s greatest solos. Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough move on once again within a year. McCullough also appeared as lead guitarist on the original 1970 recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

In 1975, McCullough released "Mind Your Own Business," his sole album on George Harrison's short-lived A&M Records' distributed Dark Horse label.

McCullough then did some session work, and played concerts with Roy Harper, Frankie Miller, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull, Ronnie Lane (whose "Kuschty Rye" is a McCullough live favourite), and Donovan. He also spent some time with progressive band Spooky Tooth. While recovering from an injury to his hand while visiting his family in 1980, McCullough decided to stay in Ireland. He began to sit in with some old friends, The Fleadh Cowboys, at their Sunday afternoon residency in The Lower Deck in Dublin, and soon decided to move back to Portstewart and put a new band together. He was joined by Percy Robinson on pedal steel guitar, Roe Butcher on bass and Liam Bradley on drums.

In 1998 McCullough went to Poland, where he rehearsed with a band of Polish musicians for an upcoming tour. After the tour, they went into a recording studio and recorded a ‘live’ album which was released as "Blue Sunset". This was followed by a further successful Polish tour. On returning home, McCullough recorded and released "Failed Christian", a song that has since been covered by Nick Lowe on his album, Dig My Mood. In 1999, his beloved and invaluable cherry red 1963 Gibson ES335 guitar went missing during a flight from Warsaw to London. To date, it has never been recovered.

McCullough continues to record and perform and has released some solo material, including "Belfast To Boston" (2001) and "Unfinished Business" (2003). The latter contains his 1998 single "Failed Christian", a powerful song best appreciated in live performance. Musically, he is bluesy and upbeat, with excursions into country and folk. McCullough gigs regularly in Northern Ireland and Scotland, playing with a solid backing band with obvious enthusiasm.

McCullough's spoken words "I don't know; I was really drunk at the time" can be heard on Pink Floyd's album "The Dark Side of the Moon", at the end of the song "Money".

In 2007, Over the Rhine covered "Failed Christian" on their album "Live from Nowhere, Vol. II".

In late 2007 McCullough teamed up with Dave Sharp (ex Alarm) and together they enlisted the talents of Zoot Money (The Animals, Big Roll Band), on Keyboard; Gary Fletcher, (The Blues Band) on Bass; and Colin Allen, (Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker) on Drums. In Jan 2008 The Hard Travelers performed their debut gig at The Cellars, Portsmouth.

McCullough contributed guitar on and organized the band for Alaskan musician The Rev Neil Down's 2003 release 'When A Wrong Turns Right'

In 2008 McCullough recorded "Poor Man's Moon" at Amberville Studios. The album is scheduled for release in Ireland only on September 5, 2008 and features new McCullough compositions and a number of songs co-written with poet Eamon Carr (of Horslips) including the single “Too Late to Worry” released in August.

Among the musicians featured on the album are James Delaney on keyboards; Roe Butcher on electric bass guitar; Nicky Scott on double bass and electric bass guitar; Enda Walsh on keyboards; Adie McIlduff on drums; Percy Robinson on dobro and pedal steel guitar and Peter McKinney on drums/sequencing.


* [http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/article.aspx?articleID=691 Culture Northern Ireland]

External links

* [http://www.henrymccullough.com/ Official Web Site]

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