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Remembering The Unsung, Late Wings Guitarist Jimmy McCullough On His Birthday
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Jimmy McCulloch and Paul McCartney Wings

Today’s marks the birthday of Jimmy McCullough, the Scottish musician who pretty much played with a virtual who’s who of British rock and roll artists of the 1970s, but succumbed to a heroin overdose at the tender age of 26 and has been mainly forgotten about in today’s day and age.

McCullough is best remembered for his stint in Paul McCartney’s Wings from 1974 to 1977, playing lead guitar on many of their hits, including the number one singles “Listen to What the Man Said,” “Let em In,” and “Silly Love Songs.” He also played in a band prior to Wings, known as Thunderclap Newman, which is remembered for their song “Something in the Air,” (number one in the UK) which has been covered by artists such as Tom Petty, The Eurythmics, jazz impressario Herbie Mann, and Donald Fagen among others. McCullough was only 15 when he performed on that track, still holding the record for the youngest person to date to have performed on a number one single in the UK.

He started playing guitar at 10 years old, and by the time he was barely a teenager, he made the aforementioned stint in Thunderclap Newman, who were a band by proxy – they were friends of Pete Townshend (The Who). The band played for a few years until disbanding and McCullough jumped ship to play with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. McCullough then went to another blues band, Stone the Crows, replacing the original guitar player, who had died very eerily and Spinal Tap-like from electrocution on stage. After making some appearances on a John Entwistle (also from The Who) solo album, Wistle Rhymes, playing alongside Peter Frampton on a few tracks and soon after guesting on a Ron Harper solo release, he became employed in former Beatle Paul McCartney’s Wings in 1974 to massive success. He left that band a few years later and joined a reformed Small Faces line up for a small tour covering some of England. His last musical stints were low key releases. McCullough died from heart failure due to a heroin overdose on September 27, 1979.

Jimmy McCullough’s style was decidedly blues, and that flashy, tasteful guitar style of his certainly anchored many of those aforementioned bands and projects. He is definitely an unsung figure in the annals of music and rock and roll history, hence this article, which is an attempt to bring back the name and presence of yet another tragic rock and roll figure for at least one day today, in these contemporary times. His playing is still heard on classic rock radio of course whenever some of those old Wings songs gets spun. Here’s to another invisible today, yet visible in yesteryear, force of musical talents, Jimmy McCullough.



  1. Lovely article. I had a crush on Jimmy when I was a little girl. He was part of how I discovered some of those other artists mentioned, beyond Wings.

    Comment by ChristelAdina — June 5, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

  2.  Thank you Christel, I appreciate the compliments.  For sure, Jimmy was an unsung figure indeed.  It’s funny how there are so many things we still all know about in all forms of medium, but sometimes don’t know who is there creating them, under the surface levels.  Thanks again for the good cheer!

    Comment by Stoogeypedia — June 6, 2012 @ 2:49 am

  3. Had he lived, McCullough might have been one of the best of that era. A very sad story.

    Comment by jamessavik — April 16, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

  4. The name is McCulloch, not McCullough. Jimmy was born in the Scottish lowlands, not Ireland. He didn’t use heroin and didn’t die of heart failure due to a heroin overdose. He died from cardiac arrrest due to acute morphine poisoning (overdose) and he didn’t use morphine either, so it remains a mystery. His blood alcohol was over the legal limit, so this also played a more minor roll in the respiratory depression. Although his body was found by his brother, Jack, on Sept. 27, he’d been dead at least 2 days. Christeladina, keep your eyes open for a biography on Jimmy, late 2015 or early 2016. The book is titled Little Wing: The Jimmy McCulloch story by Paul Salley. This is an otherwise nice article, Stoogeypedia. And, yes, Jamessavik, Jimmy would have been counted among the greats, no doubt about it. The story is sadder than you know. Although Jimmy wasn’t as well known in the U.S. as he should have been, this is hardly the only country that matters. For example, he was hugely popular in Japan.

    Comment by ahhhzzz . — March 14, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  5. Junior’s Farm, great song, as good as it gets…

    Comment by FredZiffel — July 13, 2015 @ 5:30 am

  6. Thank you for writing and posting this, Stoogeypedia. All tributes to the Scottish Titan are welcomed! We’ll miss him on his SG, his Vee and the rest. You wrote “succumbed” but if you only knew.

    Comment by Laurel Harper — July 31, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

  7. he made Wings rock. Wings Over America is one of the best live albums ever. After Jimmy left Paul’s music took on a sappy bubble gum music sound. McCartney never rocked like he did with Jimmy!!!

    Comment by Patrick Jordan — May 9, 2016 @ 7:05 pm

  8. Knew what ?

    Comment by Karen Paterson — March 17, 2018 @ 10:23 am

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