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Great session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan passes away

Great session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan passes away

THE great session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan has passed away. He was 71.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Sullivan, whose real name was James Tomkins, was one of the most sought-after session musicians. He is believed to have played on more than 1,000 hits, working with virtually all of the stars of the music scene of that era, including The Kinks, Billy Fury, Tom Jones and Helen Shapiro.

Among the hundreds of sessions in which he was involved, more than 50 of the recordings reached No. 1 in the charts, including What’s New Pussycat (Tom Jones), You Really Got Me (The Kinks), and You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (Dusty Springfield).

He is credited with being among the early users of the Talk Box and Fuzzbox technologies. 

As a young man he had honed his playing skills in Marty Wilde’s backing band, The Wildcats, and during Eddie Cochran’s UK tour in 1960.

Later, he would appear on stage with a range of bands. He was a member of the James Last Orchestra and played in Tom Jones’s band during tours in the early 1970s — it was while with the Welsh singer that he met Elvis.

In the mid-70s he moved to the United States where he and producer Derek Lawrence formed the Retreat record label.

He returned to the U.K. where he continued to record and tour as well as writing film scores and jingles.

To view footage of Big Jim Sullivan on stage, click here.


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