Monday, 8 October 2012

RIP Big Jim Sullivan

I was saddened to hear of the death of session guitarist extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan last week, at the relatively young age of 71.

Sullivan's extensive list of credits reads like a who's who of the 1960s (and 1970s), but he was also a pioneer, being credited variously as the first guitarist to use a wah-wah effect on record, and the first to use a fuzzbox.

He was a master of the sitar, one of a tiny few in the UK in the 1960s, and released several albums of sitar music. He pops up in an episode of Space: 1999 'Troubled Spirits' (brought to my attention by my good friend the Vicar of Belbury) playing a spectacular and lengthy piece on his electric Coral Sitar. Suffice it to say that you won't find much like this on TV today.

Sullivan and his session-playing contemporaries really were the unsung heroes of the 1960s music scene in the UK. It's incredible how much of his work you've already heard. For me, nowhere is he better than on Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire De Melody Nelson, an album laden with the best session players of its time, including the hugely under-appreciated bassist Dave Richmond (about whom more another time).

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