John McCullagh is one singer/songwriter who can legitimately be called a prodigy: he was discovered by a legendary British music mogul when he was only 14, and earned rave reviews for his debut album, which arrived just a year later. Born John Lennon McCullagh in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England in 1988, McCullagh was raised in a home where music was part of daily life; his parents were especially fond of Bob Dylan, Oasis, the Beautiful South, and the Beatles (the last fairly obvious given their son's name). After the family moved to Melbourne, Australia for a few years, McCullagh experienced a life-changing event when his father opted to follow Bob Dylan on a nine-date tour of the Antipodes, and young John tagged along. After seeing the legendary singer and songwriter up close, McCullagh decided he wanted to become a musician, and at the age of 12, after his family returned to Doncaster, he began learning to play the guitar and writing songs.
North South Divide In the fall of 2012, 14-year-old McCullagh played one of his first shows at a pub in the South Yorkshire community of Rotherham; in the audience was Alan McGee, the legendary founder of Creation and Poptones Records, who had shaped the careers of My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, and Oasis. McGee was impressed by young McCullagh's talent and stage presence, but since his set consisted mainly of Bob Dylan covers, he urged the teenager to focus on songwriting. McCullagh responded with a batch of forceful and literate new songs that reflected his love of Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Van Morrison, and McGee promptly signed him to his new record label, 359 Music. McCullagh was 15 when his debut album, North South Divide (released under the name John Lennon McCullagh), was released in the fall of 2013, and having already undertaken modest tours of England and Europe, he was poised to promote the record with more road work in 2014. In 2015, he returned with a new band, John McCullagh & the Escorts, and a sophomore album, New Born Cry, which featured production from Cast's John Power.