Paul McCartney Reacts to Death of Wings Guitarist Henry McCullough

Jorgen Angel/Redferns
Henry McCullough performs in Copenhagen, Denmark in Nov. 1971.

If you've ever heard the elegant solo on the Wings song "My Love" or the reggae-like riffs of "Live and Let Die," then you are familiar with the work of Henry McCullough. The former member of Paul McCartney's post-Beatles band Wings and veteran session musician died Tuesday (June 14) at age 72 after a long illness, his longtime agent Nigel Martyn told the Belfast Telegraph.

Born in Portstewart, Ireland in 1943, McCullough spent years playing blues, rock, pop and psychedelic bands in London -- touring in support of Jimi Hendrix and playing on Joe Cocker's breakthrough 1969 album With a Little Help From My Friends -- before getting tapped to join Wings for 1973's Red Rose Speedway. During sessions for that album he also made his way onto a Pink Floyd album when he waltzed to an adjacent studio and contributed a spoken word bit ("I don't know, I was really drunk at the time") to the Dark Side of the Moon track "Money." 

 

Though McCullough only lasted one album with Wings, McCartney paid tribute to his former bandmate with a heartfelt note on Tuesday. "I was very sad to hear that Henry McCullough, our great Wings guitarist, passed away today," McCartney wrote in a blog post. "He was a pleasure to work with, a super-talented musician with a lovely sense of humour. 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."

After leaving Wings, McCullough enjoyed a long and fruitful career as a session musician over the next two decades, sitting in with Roy Harper, Ronnie Lane, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull and Spooky Tooth.