Thursday, 11 October 2012

Britain is no country for and says "Goodbye" to Big Jim Sullivan and the music of his sweet guitar

Big Jim, session guitarist who played on over a thousand chart hits, with 55 number one singles, has died at the age of
71. Here he is providing the distinctive guitar backing to Dave Berry's 'The Crying Game' which I heard when I was 18 in 1965 and my auditory memory has kept his chords fresh in my mind all these years :


What you possibly didn't know about Big Jim, that he :

Sullivan with Tom Jones on American television, 1970* was born Jim Tomkins in Uxbridge, West London, went to a local secondary modern school, took up the guitar at 14, gravitated towards the Soho haunts of skiffle and rock'n'roll.

* joined Marty Wilde's backing group, 'The Wildcats' at the age of 17 in 1958 and is seen on the left in dark glasses.

* in 1960, joined the British tour of the American rock stars Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent which, although the tour ended in tragedy when Eddie was killed in a car crash in Wiltshire, had learned the secrets of the authentic rock'n'roll style from him and restrung his guitar to achieve the 'Cochran sound'.

* must have heard Heinz, the bassist with 'The Tornados', play his guitar 'Just Like Eddie' :

* was a pioneer of guitar technologies such as the 'wah-wah pedal', the 'fuzzbox' and 'talkbox' and later recalled that the older generation of dance band musicians, called him the 'Electric Monster', "because I made the guitar scream and groan when I bent and pulled the strings".

* was associated with Frankie Vaughan's 'Tower of Strength' in 1961 and went on to play on Dusty Springfield's 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' and Tom Jones'  'Green, Green Grass of Home' :
Engelbert Humperdinck's,'The Last Waltz' :
The Small Faces’ Itchycoo Park :

*  averaged three sessions a day at his most prolific and brought his light touch and adaptable technique to disparate artists : Lulu, Donovan, Marianne Fatefully and worked with David Bowie on 'Space Oddity,' Shirley Bassey on the Bond theme, 'Goldfinger, 'Downtown' with Petula Clark, The Kinks' on 'You Really Got Me,' and Tom Jones on 'What's New Pussycat?'

* once said : "My whole life is geared to play guitar. I play what I want and I hope the listener gets as much pleasure listening to the music as I get playing it. Just recently I played with Van Morrison and I came to realise that money can't make a decent human being after you....A nice way to spend the rest of my life would be to work for love instead of work to live. I am a very lucky man. I am living my life with my hobby as my profession."

Bye, bye Big Jim. I'm sure you're playing your guitar up there somewhere with the angels.


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