James “Jimmy” McCulloch

James “Jimmy” McCulloch

Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Death 27 Sep 1979 (aged 26)
Maida Vale, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Burial Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown
Memorial ID 93064630 · View Source
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Jimmy McCulloch was the lead guitarist for Thunderclap Newman (yes, he's on their hit record "Something In The Air). After Thunderclap Newman broke up in 1971, he went on to play with Stone The Crows, replacing Les Harvey who was electrocuted in 1972 until they broke up in 1973. He soon went into session work, but then he joined Paul McCartney & Wings as lead guitarist (replacing Henry McCullough). He played on four albums with Wings : Venus and Mars (1975), Speed Of Sound (1976), Wings Over America (1977), and London Town (1978). He then went on to work with the Small Faces, Wild Horses, and the Dukes before dying of a drug overdose in 1979.
Born in Dumbarton and raised in Clydebank and Cumbernauld, Scotland, McCulloch began to play the guitar at the age of 11 and at that age, he made his performance debut as the guitarist for the Jaygars, which was later known as One in a Million. One in a Million performed live in support of The Who during he Who's tour of Scotland in 1967. That year, One in a Million released their "Fredereek Hernando"/"No Smokes" single. Double Sight, a CD compilation of these and other songs written and recorded by the band, was released in 2009.

In April 1967, McCulloch played lead guitar for the Utterly Incredible, Too Long Ago to Remember, Sometimes Shouting at People during the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream event, which was held on the grounds of the Alexandra Palace in London.[2] That year, he played guitar for One in a Million, which performed live at The Upper Cut and other London venues.

McCulloch first rose to fame in 1969 when he joined Pete Townshend's friends, Andy 'Thunderclap' Newman (piano) and songwriter John 'Speedy' Keen (vocals, drums), to form the band Thunderclap Newman. The band enjoyed a UK No. 1 hit with "Something in the Air" that year. Thanks to "Something in the Air", McCulloch is the youngest person to date to have performed on a number one hit song in the UK. Thunderclap Newman's album, Hollywood Dream, on which McCulloch's titular instrumental then and his song "I See It All" later appeared, sold well but was not as successful as their hit single. From January 1971 until mid-April 1971, the band had toured England, Scotland, Holland, and Scandinavia before they disbanded a couple of weeks later.

It was also during this time he became a pin up for teen girls. He was not content with this, but, learned to live with it. He disliked being touched by these groupies at concerts and let it be known.

In October 1971, McCulloch played guitar in concert with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers in England and Germany. On 31 October 1971 McCulloch's band Bent Frame made its performance debut in London. The band subsequently renamed itself the Jimmy McCulloch Band and toured England and Scotland in support of Leslie West's Mountain in February 1972. By then, McCulloch had done session work for Klaus Voorman, Harry Nilsson, Steve Ellis, John Entwistle, and others.

In June 1972, McCulloch joined the blues rock band (and fellow Mayall-school alumni) Stone the Crows to replace guitarist Les Harvey, who had been electrocuted on stage. McCulloch helped Stone the Crows to complete their Ontinuous Performance album by playing on the tracks "Sunset Cowboy" and "Good Time Girl". Stone the Crows disbanded around May 1973.

In 1973, McCulloch played guitar on John Keen's album, Previous Convictions, had a brief stint in Blue and he played guitar on Brian Joseph Friel's debut album under the pseudonym 'The Phantom'.

Paul McCartney/Wings and after[edit]

McCulloch joined Wings in August 1974. His debut track with them was "Junior's Farm".

McCulloch composed the music score of the anti-drug song "Medicine Jar" on Wings' Venus and Mars album and the similar "Wino Junko" on the band's Wings at the Speed of Sound album. He also sang both. Colin Allen, former drummer for Stone the Crows, wrote the lyrics of both songs.

During his time with Wings, McCulloch formed White Line with his brother Jack on drums and Dave Clarke on bass, keyboards and vocals. They played several impromptu gigs and released a single, entitled "Call My Name" / "Too Many Miles". A 13-track album, White Line – Complete, was released in 1994 on Clarke's Mouse Records.[3] Jimmy McCulloch and White Line had appeared on the British T.V. programme Supersonic on 27 November 1976. In addition, McCulloch recorded and produced two unreleased songs by The Khyber Trifles and had occasionally performed live (in London and their native Glasgow) with the band. Finally, as noted above, he played guitar on Roy Harper's album, Bullinamingvase, and Ricci Martin's album, Beached, in 1977.

In September 1977, McCulloch left Wings,reportedly after McCartney sacked him for drugs, to join the reformed Small Faces during the latter band's 9-date tour of England that month. He played guitar on the Small Faces' album, '78 in the Shade. In early 1978, McCulloch started a band called Wild Horses with Brian Robertson, Jimmy Bain and Kenney Jones, which he had left that spring. In 1979, McCulloch joined The Dukes. His last recorded song, "Heartbreaker", appeared on their only album, The Dukes.

A melodic, heavily blues-infused guitarist, McCulloch's rig normally consisted of a Gibson SG and a Gibson Les Paul and he occasionally played bass guitar when McCartney was playing piano or acoustic guitar.


On 27 September 1979, McCulloch died of heart failure caused by a heroin overdose at his flat in Maida Vale, North West London, aged 26. He was discovered by his brother sitting in an easy chair with a burnt out joint in his hands. There were NO drugs in the house, but pot, booze and heroin in his bloodstream. His brother thought it could be homicide because it looked like the place was cleaned. The rock community was shocked and saddened, however, among those who had worked with him, there was not a lot of surprise. It was a huge loss for the world. [4]

Bio by: Pugg

See more McCulloch memorials in:

  • Created by: Roy Clifford
  • Added: 4 Jul 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 93064630
  • david b
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James “Jimmy” McCulloch (4 Jun 1953–27 Sep 1979), Find a Grave Memorial no. 93064630, ; Maintained by Roy Clifford (contributor 46522458) Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.