Drew McCulloch

FROM CIRCUS ACTS TO TRIBUTE ACTS – ALL IN THE NAME OF ROCK AND ROLL

Robert Neil

When you think of the glamorous world of rock and roll, the Ayrshire town of Ardrossan isn’t the first place that springs to mind. It is, however, the home town of one of the most engaging and interesting characters I have met, and also provides inspiration for the title of his most recent album, Cannon Hill, the area where he grew up.

Drew McCulloch spoke with great passion about all aspects of his varied career, whether being a musician for hire, writing his own songs, playing large venues around the UK, singing in
nursing homes, and as a Kenny Rodgers tribute. Drew had a sparkle in his eyes and a warmth in his voice as he related tales of a life doing a job he obviously loves. Keen to be involved in the local
music scene, Drew has plenty of experience to offer those who choose a life in music.

It hasn’t all been glam though:

“My first job leaving school was as a bottle sniffer at Lees Lemonade factory in Ardrossan, sniffing returned empty bottles for traces of paraffin. People used to use the empties to store the fuel which was still popular back then.”

After a short stint as a trainee compositor at the Irvine Herald newspaper, he followed his dream and, aged 17, headed to London with his pal, Robin Lucas. Due to a bit of luck, musical duo, Gallagher and Lye (famous for the song, ‘Heart On My Sleeve’) had left the band Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance. These Ayrshire Lads stepped comfortably into those still warm vacated shoes with ease.

Looking at some photographs, Drew fondly recalled his time travelling all over the country with Ronnie Lane’s band, complete with circus performers, clowns and fire eaters. Never a dull moment by the sound of it, and of course, this all took place under a big top. He laughed as he explained, “It was basically like jumping off a cliff to see if we could fly.”

Never mind jumping off a cliff, a few years later, he was rubbing shoulders with Sir Cliff Richard himself, and other well-known acts. He has played, managed and produced with other top names including Alex Harvey, The New York Dolls, Denny Laine (of Wings fame), John Martyn, Isla Sinclair, Bobby Davro, Go West, Wet Wet Wet and even comedian Jim Davidson. Recalling his time working with Cliff, he told me that he was an absolute gentleman and Cliff even recorded one of his very own songs, and that Jim Davidson was a huge prog-rock fan, and in particular loved Emmerson, Lake & Palmer. I also learned that Jim was quite a good drummer, even having his own band as well.

So what does the future hold now?

“As well as trying to write a book, I would like to try my hand at some stand-up comedy, but most of all, I want to keep on playing music.”

Before we wrap up our conversation, there is a cautionary tale. Because of low emission zones, Drew laughs and goes on to tell me, “I can’t drive my car to certain places. I have to park and get the bus sometimes, and along with my singing partner for a tribute act, we had to catch a bus to the Classic Grand in Glasgow. There we were, heading into the city centre, dressed as Kenny Rodgers and Dolly Parton!”

Drew has four albums which are all available to download, but if you get the chance to see this talented man at one of his gigs, you won’t be disappointed.