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English guitar legend Big Jim Sullivan, died today (October 2nd 2012) aged 71 in Billingshurst, UK. The famous guitarist was

most well known for his incredible session guitar work throughout his career which started in 1959, as well as the teacher to guitar maestros Ritchie Blackmoore and Steve Howe.

He is an inspiration to any guitarist, composing guitar tracks that have been used on over 1000 charting singles over the years. He was widely seen as the most in-demand guitarist in the UK and had an almighty career. Sullivan was often known for being the first Brit to play a Les Paul in the UK when he was bought one by fellow band mate Marty Wilde in his Wildcats days.

Big Jim was then introduced into the session scene when he met Jack Good on the set of ‘Oh, Boy’ and was soon revered as the finest session player of the 1960’s and 1970’s for his diversity and flexible approach to guitar.

See the legend in action before reading on

In 1960 he toured with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran on the tour which ended Eddie’s life. He was known for being the first guitarist to use the ‘Wah wah’ effect on the track ‘The Bat’ by KrewKat. He was also partly responsible for the Marshall amplifier, when in 1962 he asked Jim Marshall to make ampfliers alongside Ritchie Blackmoore and Pete Townshend.

Other amazing achievements include 

  • First player to use the Fuzzbox on a UK record when he borrowed one off Jimmy Page, playing on P.J Proby’s ‘Hold me’
  • Created music for A Clockwork Orange
  • Played on Frank Zappa’s ‘200 Motels’
  • Played for Tom Jones 1969- 1974
  • Played for the band ‘Tiger’

Recent Years in Music for film and TV, teaching and performing

Big Jim spent his more recent years (1987 onwards) composing music for film and tv as well as teaching, and still performed alongside this with the BJS Duo.

Outside influences

Jim became a serious sitar player under the guidance of Vilayat Khan and wrote two albums of sitar music as well practising sitar with George Harrison.

His Jazz guitar skills were admired in the Jazz world and can be heard in this impressive live performance of Big Jim Sullivan

In the summer of 2012 Big Jim Sullivan was set to do a signing and performance at the Brighton guitar store Badlands Guitars, where I was set to meet him alongside Peerless Guitars. He fell ill on the way and was not able to make the day so I unfortunately never got to meet the legend that is Big Jim Sullivan. An inspiration to every guitarist.

RIP Big Jim Sullivan


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