Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough dies age 72

Henry McCullough
Henry McCullough

Former Wings guitarist Henry McCullough has died.

Originally from Portstewart, Northern Ireland, the musician travelled the world playing with rock legends such as Sir Paul McCartney and Joe Cocker and was said to be the only Irish artist to have played at the Woodstock festival.

McCullough, 72, suffered a severe heart attack four years ago and never fully recovered.

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”.

While he may not have been a household name everywhere, McCullough counted Jimi Hendrix, Marianne Faithfull and The Who among those he jammed with.

He played lead guitar on Wings’ James Bond theme Live and Let Die, but he is perhaps best known for his solo on the band’s number one hit My Love.

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 Australian 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 the famous track 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 put on an electrifying performance of The Beatles’ hit With a Little Help from My Friends.

McCullough also played on the music for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit 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 - the way she looked after him was absolutely out of this world.”

Funeral arrangements are to be announced later.