British session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan died at the age of 71……Big Jim who?……….
You may have never heard of Big Jim but I bet you’ve ‘heard’ Big Jim Sullivan! Way back in 1959 he began his career playing guitar for Marty Wilde’s band, he was also rumoured to be the very first owner of a Gibson Les Paul in the U.K.! Future Deep Purple and rainbow guitar god Richie Blackmore was taught to play guitar by Big Jim, he also lent a hand (quite literally) in developing Tomorrow, Yes & Asia guitarist Steve Howe find his way round the fretboard, jeez……if that’s not enough his nimble guitar playing can be heard on no fewer than 55 (yes 55!) No.1 hits, this however, is a taste of his first band the wonderfully named ‘Krew Kats’…
Throughout the ’60s Sullivan was one of a select few session musicians whose services were in constant demand, check out some of these statistics….
” Sullivan played on around 750 UK chart entries, and averaged three recording sessions a day. He played on the first records in the UK to use a wah-wah effect –Michael Cox‘s 1961 “Sweet Little Sixteen” and Dave Berry‘s 1964 hit “The Crying Game” used a DeArmond Tone and Volume pedal. He played on the first record in the UK to use a fuzzbox, which he had borrowed from session guitarist Eric Ford, on P.J. Proby‘s 1964 hit “Hold Me“…..Later in the 1960s and 1970s, Sullivan continued to play on a succession of hit records including those by The Walker Brothers, Donovan, David Bowie, Benny Hill, The New Seekers, Thunderclap Newman, Love Affair, Long John Baldry, Marmalade, Small Faces, and Rolf Harris. In 1968 he played on George Harrison‘s Wonderwall. He directed and played on Amazing Blondel‘s first album in 1969, and in the same year played on the album Sound of Sunforest, the overture from which was used in the film A Clockwork Orange. In 1971 he played in the Jean-Claude Vannier Orchestra for Serge Gainsbourg‘s Histoire de Melody Nelson, and also played on Frank Zappa‘s 200 Motels. In 1972 he did arrangements for the orchestral version of The Who‘s Tommy.
That’s some CV!
You can hear his playing on this Dave Berry track…
Almost forgot….he also played with Tom Jones!