Big Jim Sullivan

Big Jim Sullivan (born James George Thompkins, 14 February 1941, in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England) is an English musician, whose career started in 1959. Best known as a session guitarist, Sullivan was one of the most "in-demand" studio musicians in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s and has performed on more than one thousand charting singles over his career. [ [ Allmusic bio] ]

Early life

Sullivan was born at Uxbridge Hospital, and he later went to Woodfield Secondary School, in Cranford, London.

By 1959, at the The 2i's Coffee Bar Sullivan met Marty Wilde, and was invited to become a member of his backing group, the Wildcats.

ession guitarist

Jack Good introduced Sullivan to session work when he met him on the set of the television series "Oh, Boy!"

Sullivan went on to become one of the most sought after guitarists throughout the 1960s and the 1970s due to his flexibility in playing different styles of music. This meant he averaged three recording sessions a day,fact|date=June 2008 which allowed him to appear on many hit records. He played on at least one thousand UK chart entries.fact|date=June 2008

ullivan and Tom Jones

In 1969 Sullivan joined Tom Jones, with whom he spent the next five years touring, and it was during his time in Las Vegas that Sullivan met and formed a friendship with Elvis Presley.

1974 to 1978

Sullivan left Tom Jones in late 1974, and teamed up with Derek Lawrence, a record producer whose credits include Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash, to form a record label named Retreat Records. They produced various artists over a period of about two years. Among these artists were Labi Siffre, Chas & Dave and McGuinness Flint. Sullivan himself fronted a band called Tiger, who put out three albums. Also, Lawrence and Sullivan went to the United States to produce a glam metal band named Angel.

1978 to 1987

In 1978 he became part of the James Last Orchestra for nine years; with a brief amount of time away for him to do a major tour with Olivia Newton-John after her success with "Grease".

1987 onwards

Starting in 1987, Sullivan composed music for films and advertising jingles.

He put his guitar music on hold for a few years until a friend suggested he sat in with a musician playing at a nearby pub. The musician he sat in with was Willie Austen.

Recently Sullivan and guitarist Doug Pruden have been touring as the BJS Duo and he also plays in the Big Jim Sullivan Band with Duncan McKenzie, Malcolm Mortimore and Pete Shaw.

In 2006 Sullivan was featured in the "Guitar Maestros" DVD series.

Interesting facts

With Other Legendary Guitarists

*Ritchie Blackmore and Steve Howe were given guitar lessons by Sullivan.fact|date=June 2008
*Sullivan, together with Ritchie Blackmore and Pete Townshend, persuaded Jim Marshall to make amplifiers.fact|date=June 2008
*Sullivan was known as "Big Jim", whilst Jimmy Page was known as "Little Jim".fact|date=June 2008
*Jimmy Page borrowed Sullivan's Gibson J-200 acoustic for the recording of "Led Zeppelin".fact|date=June 2008
*Sullivan was one of the contributors to the 1971 Green Bullfrog album, which also featured guitarists Ritchie Blackmore and Albert Lee.fact|date=June 2008

*Sullivan was taught how to replace steel strings with banjo ones from Eddie Cochran so allowing easier bending of the strings.
*Sullivan introduced the 12 string guitar to the UK in 1959.
*Sullivan played on the first record in the UK to use a Fuzzbox - P.J. Proby's "Hold Me".
*Sullivan played on the first records in the UK to use a Wah Wah Pedal - Dave Berry's "The Crying Game" and Michael Cox's "Sweet Little Sixteen".
*Sullivan was an innovator of the talk box.
*Sullivan played on the first record that used sampling John Kongos's He's Gonna Step On You Again.
*Sullivan produced and arranged Labi Siffre's "I Got The . . ." which was sampled by Eminem.

Classic Recordings
*Sullivan is credited with "vocal chorus" on the 1962 Alexis Korner's and Blues Incorporated's seminal album "R&B from the Marquee".
*Sullivan played on the 1964 Georgie Fame's first album "Rhythm & Blues at the Flamingo".
*Sullivan did arrangements for the orchestral version of The Who's "Tommy".
*Sullivan directed and played on Amazing Blondel's first album.
*Sullivan played on the legendary 1969 album "Sound of Sunforest" - the overture was used in the film "A Clockwork Orange".
*In 1971 Sullivan played in the Jean-Claude Vannier Orchestra for the Serge Gainsbourg's masterpiece "Histoire de Melody Nelson".
*In 1968 Sullivan played on George Harrison's "Wonderwall".
*In 1971 Sullivan played on Frank Zappa's "200 Motels".

TV and Radio Shows
*Sullivan and the Krew Kats were the warm up act on Oh, Boy!.
*He was the resident guitarist at Top of the Pops and Ready Steady Go!. He also helped out at Saturday Club.
*A feature of the Bay City Rollers' UK TV Show "Shang A Lang" was Sullivan giving them guitar lessons.
*Sullivan played on the guitar dominated themes to Space 1999, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90, Thunderbirds and Rupert (Everyone Sing His Name).

Other Interesting Facts
*One of the few singles that Sullivan released was "You Don't Know What You've Got" with Jack Good as singer. The B-side had actor Trevor Peacock of "Vicar of Dibley" fame singing "Hot Hiss of Steam". Another single was "She Walks Through the Fair".
*Under the guidance of Vilayat Khan, Sullivan learned to play the sitar and released two albums of sitar music. He also plays sitar on a musical interpretation of the "Kama Sutra". Sullivan practised the sitar with George Harrison at George's Esher mansion.
*Sullivan toured with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on the fateful tour that ended Cochran's life.

Famous recordings

Sullivan's guitar work appears on the following songs:-

1959 Marty Wilde and "Bad Boy"

1961 Michael Cox and "Sweet Little Sixteen"

1962 John Barry and "James Bond Theme" (Vic Flick played lead guitar, Sullivan played rhythm)

1963 Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and "Twist and Shout"

1964 P.J. Proby and "Hold Me" and "Together"

1964 Dave Berry and "The Crying Game"

1964 Freddie and the Dreamers and "I Love You Baby"

1964 Simon Scott and "Move It Baby"

1964 Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and "Candy Man"

1965 Gerry and the Pacemakers and "Ferry Cross the Mersey"

1965 Donovan and "Catch the Wind" and "Colours"

1966 Joe Loss and "A Shot in the Dark"

1967 The Small Faces and "Itchycoo Park"

1967 Clinton Ford and "El Paso"

1968 "The Koan" (from the album "Sitar Beat" - John McLaughlin on guitar)

1971 John Kongos and "He's Gonna Step On You Again"

1971 Cliff Richard and "Silvery Rain"

1972 Gilbert O'Sullivan and "Alone Again (Naturally)"

1972 Tom Jones and "The Young New Mexican Puppeter"

1974 Alvin Stardust and "Jealous Mind" and "Guitar Star"

1974 "Cascade" (from the album "Big Jim's Back")

1976 Geoff Love (Manuel and his Music of the Mountains) and "Rodrigo's Guitar Concerto"

1977 The Walker Brothers and "Shutout" (from their album "Nite Flights")

1977 "Peace And Quiet" (from the album "Test of Time")

1977 "Strange" (from the album "Test of Time")

1984 Matt Bianco and "Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed"

2006 "Caravan" (from the DVD "Guitar Maestros")

2006 "Classical Gas" (from the DVD "Guitar Maestros")

Number one singles

Similarly, Sullivan's work appears on the following UK Number One hit singles:-

09.11.1960 Frankie Vaughan - "Tower Of Strength"

26.01.1961 Petula Clark - "Sailor" 01.06.1961 Eden Kane - "Well I Ask You"

02.11.1961 Danny Williams - "Moon River"

10.05.1962 Mike Sarne - "Come Outside" 05.07.1962 Frank Ifield - "I Remember You" 25.10.1962 Frank Ifield - "Lovesick Blues"

10.01.1963 Jet Harris And Tony Meehan - "Diamonds" 24.01.1963 Frank Ifield - "Wayward Wind" 27.06.1963 Frank Ifield - "Confessin'" 12.09.1963 Brian Poole and the Tremeloes - "Do You Love Me"

23.01.1964 The Bachelors - "Diane"

06.02.1964 Cilla Black - "Anyone Who Had a Heart" 12.03.1964 Peter & Gordon - "A World Without Love" 02.04.1964 The Four Pennies - "Juliet" 07.05.1964 Cilla Black - "You're My World"

17.12.1964 Georgie Fame - "Yeh Yeh"

07.01.1965 The Seekers - "I'll Never Find Another You"

11.02.1965 Tom Jones - "It's Not Unusual" (not the main guitar) 22.04.1965 Jackie Trent - "Where Are You Now (My Love)" 13.05.1965 Sandie Shaw - "Long Live Love" 19.08.1965 The Walker Brothers - "Make It Easy On Yourself" 02.09.1965 Ken Dodd - "Tears" 28.10.1965 The Seekers - "The Carnival Is Over" 13.01.1966 The Overlanders - "Michelle" 03.03.1966 The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" 31.03.1966 Dusty Springfield - "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" 23.06.1966 Chris Farlowe - "Out of Time" 10.11.1966 Tom Jones - "Green Green Grass of Home"

26.01.1967 Engelbert Humperdinck - "Release Me" 02.02.1967 Petula Clark - "This Is My Song" 16.03.1967 Sandie Shaw - "Puppet on a String" 27.04.1967 The Tremeloes - "Silence Is Golden" 23.08.1967 Engelbert Humperdinck - "The Last Waltz" 08.11.1967 Long John Baldry - "Let The Heartaches Begin"

03.01.1968 Love Affair - "Everlasting Love" 14.02.1968 Esther and Abi Ofarim - "Cinderella Rockafella" 14.02.1968 Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich - "The Legend of Xanadu" 08.05.1968 Des O'Connor - "I Pretend" 06.11.1968 The Scaffold - "Lily The Pink" 04.12.1968 Marmalade - "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

08.02.1969 Peter Sarstedt - "Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)" 11.07.1969 Thunderclap Newman - "Something in the Air" 30.07.1969 Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg - "Je t'aime... moi non plus" 22.11.1969 Rolf Harris - "Two Little Boys"

04.04.1970 Dana - "All Kinds of Everything" 05.06.1971 Middle of the Road - "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" 13.11.1971 Benny Hill - "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West)" 18.12.1971 New Seekers - "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" 21.10.1972 Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Clair" 17.03.1973 Gilbert O'Sullivan - "Get Down" 26.05.1973 Peters and Lee - "Welcome Home" 24.11.1973 New Seekers - "You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me" 16.02.1974 Alvin Stardust - "Jealous Mind" 18.01.1975 Pilot - "January"


1965 Big Jim Sullivan (Charles Blackwell and Jimmy Sullivan) - "Folklore With A Beat" (deleted)

1968 Big Jim Sullivan & Barry Morgan - "The Perfumed Garden" (deleted)

1968 Big Jim Sullivan - "Sitar Beat" (available on CD)

1969 Big Jim Sullivan - "Lord Sitar" (available on CD)

The 1970 album Jim Sullivan - "UFO" (label Monnie or Century City) is not Big Jim Sullivan (deleted)

The 1972 album self titled Jim Sullivan (label Playboy) is not Big Jim Sullivan (deleted)

1973 Big Jim Sullivan - "Sullivan Plays O'Sullivan" (deleted)

1974 Big Jim Sullivan - "Big Jim's Back" (available on CD)

1975 Tiger - "Tiger" (deleted)

1976 Tiger - "Goin' Down Laughing" (deleted)

1983 Tiger - "Test Of Time" (deleted - unreleased when recorded in 1977, but released later by manager John Glover)

1992 Jim Sullivan - "Forbidden Zones - Guitar Tutoring" (deleted VHS)

1994 Tiger - "Test Of Time" (available on CD)

1998 Big Jim Sullivan - "Big Jim's Back" / "Tiger" (available on CD)

2001 Big Jim Sullivan - "Mr Rock Guitar" (aka Ultimate Rock Guitar) (available on CD)

2003 BJS Duo - "Hayley's Eyes" (available from Sullivan's website on CD)

2003 Big Jim Sullivan - "Rockin' Rebels" (deleted)

2004 The Big Jim Sullivan Trio - "Jazz Cafe" (available on three CDs)

2005 The Big Jim Sullivan Band - "Live At Coolham" (available from Sullivan's website on two VHS tapes)

2006 Big Jim Sullivan - "Guitar Maestros" (available on DVD - Sound Techniques)


External links

* [ Big Jim Sullivan's Official Site] A more extensive biography of his career is listed here.
* [ Big Jim Sullivan's UK Hit Singles and Albums] A listing of nearly every UK Hit Single and Album that he played on.
* [ Big Jim Sullivan's entry on the All Music Guide]

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