Big Jim Sullivan (born James George Thompkins, 14th February 1941, in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England; died 2nd October 2012) was an English popular music musician, whose career started in 1959. During his time he was the most prolific session guitarist in the UK, playing on 55 number one UK hit singles.

Sullivan was born at Uxbridge Hospital, and he later went to Woodfield Secondary School, in Cranford, London. By 1959, at the the 2I's coffee club, Sullivan met Marty Wilde, and was invited to become a member of his backing group, the Wildcats.

Jack Good introduced Sullivan to session work when he met him on the set of the television series Oh, Boy!

Sullivan went on to become one of the most sought after guitarists throughout the 1960s and the 1970s due to his flexibility in playing different styles of music. This meant he averaged three recording sessions a day, which allowed him to appear on many hit records. He played on at least one thousand UK chart entries.
In 1969 Sullivan joined In 1969 Sullivan joined Tom Jones, with whom he spent the next five years touring, and it was during his time in Las Vegas that Sullivan met and formed a friendship with Elvis.

Sullivan left Tom Jones in late 1974, and teamed up with Derek Lawrence, a record producer whose credits include Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash, to form a record label named Retreat Records. They produced various artists on this label over a period of about two years. Among these artists were Labi Siffre, Chas & Dave and McGuinness Flint. Sullivan himself fronted a band called Tiger, who put out three albums on this label. Also, Lawrence and Sullivan went to the United States to produce a glam metal band named Angel.

In 1978 he became part of the James Last Orchestra for nine years; with a brief amount of time away for him to do a major tour with Olivia Newton-John after her success with Grease.

Starting in 1987, Sullivan composed music for films and advertising jingles. He put his guitar music on hold for a few years until a friend suggested he sat in with a musician playing at a nearby pub. The musician he sat in with was Willie Austen.

In his later years, Sullivan and guitarist Doug Pruden toured as the BJS Duo and Sullivan also played in the Big Jim Sullivan Band with Duncan McKenzie, Malcolm Mortimer and Pete Shaw.

In 2006 Sullivan was featured in the Guitar Maestros DVD series.

Heart troubles and diabetes ultimately curtailed Sullivan’s performing career. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Big Jim Sullivan Music Catalog

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