Interview: Henry McCullough (Paul McCartney & Wings, Joe Cocker, Spooky Tooth, solo)

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HIT CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: 7 November 2011. We had the great luck to talk with a great guitarist: Henry McCullough. He was a member of Paul McCartney’s Wings, he recorded “With A Little Help From My Friends” album with Joe Cocker and he played with him at Woodstock, he recorded in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”, he played with Spooky Tooth, Roy Harper, Donovan, Marianne Faithfull and The Beatles guitarist, George Harrison signed him in his record label. Also, his words “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time” are heard in the end of Pink Floyd’ s song “Time” from “Dark Side of The Moon” album. Read below the very interesting things he told us:


Are you satisfied from the result and the feedback you got from fans and press for your latest album “Poor Man’s Moon”?

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I worked completely different for this album, I hadn’t written anything before. I met my drummer many years ago, when he played drums in an Irish band called Horse Letters. We had the opportunity to co-write the songs, I travelled a lot until we finish the songs and it worked very well. So, I enjoyed the making of this album.

Which are the current projects you’re involved in? Are you doing any recordings this period?

Possibly in November of this year. I will go to Poland, I haven’t been in Poland for 3 years. I will go with my drummer in Poland, he has brother has a studio there. 10 years ago we did there some recordings, but I have nothing ready to enter the studio. I think we can do an acoustic CD, to do the production in March 2012. I could make it from recording vaults but to make a CD is very expensive. You have to pay the musicians, the studio time. I can cost from 12 to 20, 30 thousand pounds. It’s not like 60s when you entered the studio without songs and you started playing, now you have to be well-prepared. You wrote first the drums, then the bass, the guitars and the vocals. You have to have at least 6-7 songs ready before you enter the studio. Otherwise, you have to spent a lot of money.


Do you think Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help from My Friends” album was one your recording highlights in your career? In that album you shared the guitar parts with Jimmy Page.

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Yes. Yes, I had just joined Joe Cocker and his Grease Band (ed: his backing band). Joe had already finished the half album. When I joined The Grease Band, it wasn’t just like joining another band. It was the first time I really recorded in a studio. It was great to be involved with all these people. I joined late the band and Jimmy Page had already finished his parts. Joe and Jimmy had already record “With A Little Help From My Friends” song. It was very interesting to be part of this album.


Do you have clear memories from Woodstock? Had you realized then that this event, would become the most important in music history?

No, no one knew this. It was until one week before we played there when it got international public attention. It was special. It was in a field, it wasn’t in a stadium and ofcourse the line-up. It was a fantastic line-up: Jimi Hendrix and all these great artists. It was really special to me. We didn’t spend many time there with the people. We were backstage. We went there by helicopter and we drove back by helicopter. The band had a superb service. It was very special for us to play in front of so many people. It was great to be part of that generation. You realize that when you get a bit older. I had the privilege to play in Woodstock. We were there for an American tour. Woodstock was part of an itinerary. The other day, I think we played in Miami. I’ve very honoured to be the only Irishman who played in Woodstock.

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Did you feel comfortable while recording “Jesus Christ Superstar” with all these classic-trained musicians? That album was so ahead of its time…

Yes, it was. I was nervous, I was there with The Grease Band: Bruce Rowland on drums, Allan Spenner an bass, Neil Hubbard on lead guitar and myself. We worked with Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber and after we finished, they brought other people. So, we hadn’t the chance to see any of these people, they went there after our recordings. And the singers too. So, then the band hadn’t realized what it would going to be. There were many people involved there and it’s great to think that I had a very small percentage to this.


Do you know that Roger Waters hates Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music more than used to hate Gilmour? He has even written a song about hating him (“It’s a Miracle” from “Amused to Death” album)!!

Really?! ?!


Do you think Chas Chandler (The Animals bassist, Jimi Hendrix manager) was a catalyst for your later career?

No. Not one bit. We had a very good band then, The People. We did gigs in London in ’66, ’67  and  with Chas Chandler, we signed a deal saying how to dress, how to grow our hair, what strip we had to have in our guitar.. So, it wasn’t for me nor for anybody else in the band . Chas Chandler was manager to my band after The People, Eire Apparent, we were from Ireland. He wanted to change our shirts, our hair, he want to shave everywhere in the body. I didn’t want to be told what to do ,I was quite rebellious. We had never money, he had to do 4-5 dates to have enough  money to go and buy something. So, he has nothing to do with my future career after Eire Apparent. He was one of those, along with many others, that drove rock’n’roll in the dirt. I wish I hadn’t met Chas Chandler.


Wow!!Because he was the person who made Jimi Hendrix a star..

Jimi Hendrix was a star before he met Chas Chandler. For sure. He only brought him to England from America. He didn’t tell him what to play, he didn’t wrote him these great riffs.


Had you ever expected the few words you said to Roger Waters will be integral part of Pink Floyd’s classic “Dark Side of The Moon”?

Yes, I know (laughs). I was with Wings at Abbey Road. We were in Studio One and Pink Floyd were in Studio Two doing “Dark Side Of The Moon”. We met in the corridor. Roger went earlier to Paul and to Linda and then he came to me. He had six cards of questions and we had to answer them immediately. He opened the first two cards and the third one had something like “When was the last time you fought?” and I answered “I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time”. I know people in Ireland who ask me “hey Henry I read that you told something like {I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time in DSOTM} .And I answer, “Yes, it was me”.


Do you remember anything unknown/unexpected/funny moment/trivia from Spooky Tooth’s “The Last Puff” sessions?

I was in The Grease Band and I went with Allan Spenner to record “The Last Puff” with Spooky Tooth. I add some guitars in it along with Luke Grosvenor, Spooky Tooth’s guitar player. It was for a very short time. I wish I had done more with Spooky Tooth.


What did you have in your mind and which was  your main influence when you wrote the iconic solo of  “My Love” (ed: this Wings song went No1 in singles charts  in USA) ?

I was in the studio. Paul used to write everything and he wanted a solo. I didn’t want to be told by the management or from anyone what to play. I know what to play, I’m the guitar player. I had very few time to think a solo to play, so I played what it came out of the top of my head. I don’t like the solos to be different from the other part of the song, it’s all one. I was alone in the studio with one other person, there was no management there, no one to tell what to play, and I played that. I stayed in the band for 18 months. When I felt the band, Denny Seiwell (drums) left too. But we remained friends after that. You know, in your life, some things works for you, so others don’t.


So, you didn’t have very good relationship with Paul.

I had good relationship with Paul and Linda and Denny Laine. Everyone had. I think Paul is fantastic. I show a Paul’s show last year in Dublin and he played there a lot of Beatles songs. After the show, I went backstage and we met. We hadn’t met for 35 years. We still had a great respect for each other’s work and art. We had a lot of respect for what we did together many years ago. We did very hard work then. It was Paul’s first band since The Beatles and there was a lot of pressure. Paul had already much money because of his songwriting. It wasn’t like joining another band, we were a very important part of the band and we did a lot of work. It wasn’t Paul’s fault, it was management’s fault. We all have regrets for the past. It was what it had to be. Two members. Two out of five left then from Paul McCartney. We didn’t get much money, he get much money. When “Wings Over Europe” tour became a hit, Paul got a lot of money, but Denny Seiwell and myself still were on a fee. We deserved more, but this didn’t happen. We were all very experienced players and we knew what he had to do. I can say that Paul McCartney is now a lot more happy that was in the past. After Linda passed away, he didn’t stop and continued to make music and there isn’t many men who can do this.


Jimi Hendrix, Robert Wyatt (Soft Machine), Henry McCullough

What do you remember the most from Eire Apparent period and touring with Hendrix, Pink Floyd and The Move?

It was long time ago. I think it was fantastic. In one show you had Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Move, Graham Bond. Everybody was in the bus. You went into the bus and you had Jimi Hendrix and all these people. Very, very exciting times.


In Roy Harper’s “One of Those Days In England” Paul McCartney and the then-line up of the Wings did a guest appearance. Did you see them during these sessions?

No. I think they did their session in another studio, I don’t remember exactly.


Do you think 80s because of your injury, were a missing decade in your career?

I think they were a very bad time for me. I was back to Ireland then, I wasn’t well then, I had personal problems, I was drinking too much and a had an accident because of that. My tendons in the arm severed. It took me a lot of time to come back to playing and it was a big shock for me that. I stayed in Ireland then. I hadn’t lived there for many years. There was a war there.. Many bombs. I had to do an operation there, the hospital was there, and I had to stay in Ireland. It took me three years to start playing guitar again. I went back in studio in 1996 and rock’n’roll had changed a lot then.


Is there anyone you’d like to play with and hasn’t happened yet?

I ‘d like to had played with Django Reinhardt. Huge player. I ‘d enjoy playing with him. I did once played with Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles. All the people wrote a great history and had great energy.


Had you ever played with Rory Gallagher?

I never played with Rory. No. We met many, many years ago. He was a phenomenon. You know, people from Ireland who played music had to go. There were no studios in Ireland, there wasn’t anything for a musician. You had go to London, everyone was moving to London and went to Ireland to do shows. I went to London. I joined a lot of bands: The People, Eire Apparent, The Grease Band, Wings but I didn’t stay for a long period in any band.


Do you think Chris Stainton (Joe Cocker, The Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, Eric Clapton) is the person you had the best musical relationship onstage?

It’s interesting that.. Yes. Chris was a great player and we did many shows with The Grease Band. Then we did a lot for sessions. I think he still plays with Eric Clapton.


Yes! Have your ever been to Greece?

No. But I watched today something in the news about Greece.


Today? Tomorrow will be a more aggressive day (ed: these days there were riots in Greece).

I think this happens all over the world. There is revolution on the way.


Maybe. We will see.


A huge “THANK YOU” to Mr Henry McCullough.

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