Not Dead at 27, But Younger at 26
A forever 27 club member in all but age
Scottish musician Jimmy McCulloch crammed a lot of living into his short life, and spent most of it doing what he loved. Born and raised in Scotland, he spent an idyllic childhood there growing up with and being close to his brother Jack McCulloch, who also became a professional musician. As a guitarist and backup vocalist he actively played and recorded almost from the time he picked up the instrument at the age of 11 until his untimely death.
McCulloch's recorded legacy and documented history ensure that he will not be forgotten, even if he missed being a member of the forever 27 club by a few months. He began his career by joining a local band called The Jaygars, who in a couple of years changed their name to One in a Million. In 1967 when McCulloch was 14, The Who chose One in a Million to open for their tour of Scotland, and Pete Townshend became a mentor of sorts to the young McCulloch.
After touring and recording with the band for 2 more years, he left to join another band with Townshend's friends John Keen and Andy Newman. Thunderclap Newman, as the band was known, had a huge worldwide hit in 1969 with the song Something in the Air, and it remains a popular classic rock cut. McCulloch was and is the youngest person ever to have performed on a number 1 hit in England. He stayed with Thunderclap until the band split up in 1971.
He then signed on with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, former band home of Eric Clapton and several other famous musicians. His tenure with the blues master was short, ending with the formation of his own group, the Jimmy McCulloch band. In late 1972, McCulloch crossed pathes with another forever 27 club member Les Harvey by taking his place in the band Stone the Crows after Harvey was accidently killed on stage with the group. The Crows lasted until mid-1973, and McCulloch did sessions and sat in with several bands after them.
His most famous tenure was with Wings, former Beatle Paul McCartney's group. He joined up in 1974 at the tender age of 21, and made his debut recording the song Junior's Farm, on which his distinctive bluesy lead guitar played a sizeable role. Ironically, he co-wrote and sang 2 anti-drug songs for Wings - ironically because by this time he was using opiates and drinking heavily as well. He stayed with the band for 3 years, finally leaving to join a reformed version of the Small Faces to record and tour. In 1979, McCulloch was found dead of an overdose of heroin, at the age of 26, too young in so many ways.