Paul McCartney is one of the greatest multi instrumentalists to have ever inhabited the world of rock. His prowess on all the main rock 'n roll instruments, from drums to bass guitar, keyboards and lead guitar – notwithstanding his all-encompassing vocal abilities – mark him down as an unusually gifted person.
For the purposes of performing in public ….. well, not even McCartney could play everything under those circumstances, so he has regularly populated his touring bands with musicians of the highest caliber.
As a lead guitarist, McCartney himself is no slouch. Just check out the wicked solo break in The Beatles' Taxman (yes, that's him), the tasteful series of licks found in the earlier Ticket To Ride or the languid blues licks in On The Way, from the solo, McCartney II album.
There have been some exceptional guitarists who've plied their trade with him over the years and I would like to recall a few of them and their recorded achievements with the former Beatle.
- Jimmy McCulloch – Former guitarist with the band Thunderclap Newman, it was Jimmy who embellished that band's monster hit Something In The Air with those characteristic jangly lines. Jimmy joined Wings in 1974 and exploded over the Venus & Mars album, showing how accomplished he was on songs such as Letting Go, Theme From Crossroads and most notably his own composition, the prophetic medicine jar (he died of a drug overdose in 1979)
- Henry McCulloch – He had a reliably short stint in Paul's early 70's version of Wings, after gracing Joe Cocker's Grease band, playing on the albums Wild Life and Red Rose Speedway. The solo on My Love is a fitting testament to his craft, as were his humble, Gibson Les Paul flourishes on tracks such as One More Kiss and Big Barn Bed.
- Robbie McIntosh – Formerly of The Average White Band and The Pretenders, Robbie was the lightning fast ax-man of the 90's for Paul, his dexterity and wit shining through the track from the album Paul Is Live, aptly called Robbie's Bit. His work on the Off The Ground album was also a model of effervescent precision.
- Rusty Anderson – Hard to choose between him and Brian Ray, both the current alternating lead guitarists in Paul's live line-up, but I say say Rusty shades it. His mastery of the Gibson ES335 and SG models is something to behold, testament to his stellar CV which counts such luminaries as Neil Diamond, Meat Loaf and Carole King.