James Anthony Sullivan, better known as Jim Sullivan, was a singer-songwriter and guitarist whose all-too brief musical career was cut short by his disappearance in 1975. He was just 35 years old when he vanished without a trace in New Mexico and was never seen again.
Six years prior this in 1969 he released his debut album, U.F.O, which boasts a fine fusion of folk, rock and country. This project was funded by his friends and recorded with some of LA’s finest session musicians, including keyboard player Don Randi, drummer Earl Palmer, and bass/album arranger and co-producer, player Jimmy Bond). After Nick Venet at Capitol turned down the opportunity to release the record, it was then put out by Sullivan’s friend Al Dobbs on a small record label called Monnie – a label set up just so this album could be issued! This offering has has since been compared to the likes of Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Gene Clark and Joe South and the arrangements have even been likened to the style of David Axelrod!!
Three years after his debut album, Jim Sullivan released his self-titled follow-up and continued to perform in prestigious L.A clubs, as well as appearing as an extra in Easy Rider and performing on the José Feliciano television show.
He issued a few 45’s and looked set to go far, but in March 1975 he left L.A to drive to Nashville alone in his VW Beetle. After checking into a Motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, he was seen the next day about 26 miles away at a remote ranch owned by the Gennitti family and his car was later found abandoned at the ranch. He was reportedly last seen walking away from the vehicle, in which he had left his money, papers, guitar, clothes, and a box of his unsold records inside? He was never seen again, and reports have variously attributed his disappearance to being murdered, becoming disoriented and lost, or, particularly in the light of the title of his first album, alien abduction. Search parties failed to find any trace of him……
According to Wikipedia, “Sullivan’s records, especially U.F.O., developed a cult following in later years, partly because of their rarity and obscurity. In 2010, Matt Sullivan (no relation), the founder of Light in the Attic Records, decided to reissue U.F.O., and made serious attempts to uncover the mystery of Sullivan’s disappearance, interviewing many of those who knew him and those involved in his recordings, but revealing little new information. The album was issued on CD in 2011. The release of the album and the resulting media coverage sparked new interest in Sullivan and his work…”
A new collection of previously unreleased demos by Sullivan, If the Evening Were Dawn, was released in 2019 by Light in the Attic Records. and both of Sullivan’s previous albums were also reissued by thr label.
Taken from his debut album, U.F.O was the first Jim Sullivan track I ever heard and, though it’s perhaps not my ‘usual thing’, it has something that inspired another listen….and another…and another…and another….It’s got freedom about it! The album itself is notable, not only for its obscurity, but also for its lyrics that seem to predict Sullivan’s own disappearance. Amidst the sunshine melodies, there is definitely a haunting undertone… Check it out above..
Jim’s mysterious ending was more interesting than this song….
…if you think so 😊