Jim Sullivan

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Big Jim Sullivan is the most sought-after session guitarist in England. The list of singles on which he's performed includes more than 1,000 chart entries, including the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and…
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Big Jim Sullivan is the most sought-after session guitarist in England. The list of singles on which he's performed includes more than 1,000 chart entries, including the Kinks' "You Really Got Me" and "Tired of Waiting," Marianne Faithfull's "As Tears Go By," and Herman's Hermits' "I'm Into Something Good," "Wonderful World," "A Must to Avoid," and "A Kind Of Hush," as well as recordings by by Cat Stevens, Lulu, Englebert Humperdinck, Long John Baldry, Cilla Black, George Hamilton IV, the Seekers, and Gilbert O'Sullivan. Sullivan claimed, during a late-'90s interview, "I am a very lucky man. I am living my life with my hobby as my profession." Taught to play the guitar at the age of 14, Sullivan was performing professionally within two years. The following year, he joined Marty Wilde's Original Wildcats, recording his first hit with the group, "Trombone." The group was renamed the Krewcats following Wilde's departure in 1961. A member of the house band of the Jack Gold-produced BBC-TV music show, Oh Boy, Sullivan continued to explore the possibilities of the guitar. He's credited with using the first fuzzbox in the United Kingdom, while accompanying P.J. Proby. Although he worked with many of England's best rock acts, Sullivan was equally involved with the country's top pop singers. He joined Tom Jones' band in early 1969, touring, recording, and appearing on Jones' television show until 1974 when he formed a production team with Derek Lawrence, producer of albums by Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash. Working together, Sullivan and Lawrence produced albums by Labi Sifri, Chas'n'Dave, and McGuinness Flint in the U.K. and glam metal band Angel in the United States. Returning to England in 1975, Sullivan found that his fortunes had reversed. Although he joined a band, Tiger, the group's albums sold poorly and their contract with EMI was dropped before the release of their third album. The band performed only one concert, at the Reading Festival, before disbanding in 1976. Joining the James Last Orchestra in 1978, Sullivan remained with the group, except for brief periods when he accompanied Olivia Newton-John, until 1987. His attention, however, was increasingly drawn to composing film soundtracks and advertising jingles. The resurgence of Sullivan's interest in the guitar was sparked when a friend suggested that he sit in with a local musician, Willie Austen. The experience was so fulfilling that he continued to play in British pubs with Austen until 1997. Sullivan worked with several other bands, during the late '80s and '90s, including the Steve Gordon-led Diamonds. He formed a jazz group, U.S., with pianist Derek Austen, drummer Malcolm Mortimer, and bassist Herbie Flowers, in 1990. The group was reduced to a trio, the 3 of Us, with Austen, who switched to the Hammond B-3 organ, and Mortimer in 1997. Sullivan also continued to perform in concerts with Duncan MacKenzie. As a soloist, Sullivan has recorded only three albums. Sitar Beat, released in 1967, featured his sitar playing, while Sullivan Plays O'Sullivan, released four years later, featured his instrumental interpretations of songs by Gilbert O'Sullivan. Sullivan made his debut as a vocalist on his third solo album, Big Jim's Back, released in 1974.