ON WILL SMITH's PUNCH... AND APOLOGY
COWBOY JUNKIES - SONGS FOR THE RECOLLECTION

PAUL SALLEY - LITTLE WING: THE JIMMY McCULLOCH STORY

JMcC

I have waited four and a half decades for this book. 

In the 70s I loved Jimmy McCulloch. Oh aye, it was then other McCullough Henry who was from Portstewart. I would get to him later. When I fell in love with all things Beatles in the summer of 1976 it Wings At The Speed Of Sound and then, from Santa, Wings Over America. 

Wings were everywhere that long hot summer of ’76. Silly Love Songs and Let ‘Em In were big hits and all over the radio. Wings as a band were solid. There had been no changes in two years and wouldn’t be for two more. Jimmy McCulloch was the young guitar hero in that classic line-up. 

In my teens I needed to know the lineup of bands the way I knew the line ups of my favourite football teams. I knew McCulloch was young and had been in his teens when his then band Thunderclap Newman reached number 1 with Something In The Air. 

When he left Wings after recording much of London Town but before its release I was as gutted as if my favourite player had transferred to another team. I followed him from Small faces to The Dukes to a very tragic early death at just 26 years of age.

McCulloch lingered warmly in my nostalgia for those Wings records but the tea time television show, The Repair Room reawakened my interested. Jimmy’s cousin Margaret Chambers brought his platinum discs to Jay Blades to be restored from a sorry state caused by a leaking roof. Jimmy was of interest again. 

Then as if my serendipity I discovered this book. Little Wing is a thoroughly research book by Paul Salley that trebles up as a photograph album and newspaper scrapbook. Jimmy’s mum it seems kept everything and that has no doubt helped Salley’s writing but also the visuals. 

That might be why it is so darn expensive BUT if you are like me and a Paul McCartney nut then this is such a brilliant side alley. I was intrigued by just how young he was playing in bands. He was like a guitar hero Osmond. It also struck me again how young he was when he died but also how much he had packed in to a life so young. Yet what a tragic loss.

I of course loved the Wings years the best. I took a new interest in Junior’s Farm which is the only time McCartney ever gives a name check in studio recordings. I went searching with more intent to the One Hand Clapping sessions to see what he added particularly to the band On the Run songs. Geoff Britten the drummer at the time called it ‘low end’. Rock power.

That classic Wings band from 74-78 gave in my opinion McCartney’s best post Beatles sound until he teamed up with Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray and Abe Laboriel Jr around the turn of the millennium. Crucial to that sound was Jimmy McCulloch.

I had no idea about all of McCulloch’s rock star friends and who he played with. Pete Townsend was a mentor early on. He played with River Daltery, Steve Marriott and John Mayall. Apparently he was even friends with David Cassidy.  

I recommend, maybe as a birthday present - Little Wing. It is a magnificent tribute to a child prodigy, gifted musician and generally friendly chap! 

Worth the wait!

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