Former DEEP PURPLE Legend RITCHIE BLACKMORE Remembers "Pioneer Of British Rock Guitar" BIG JIM SULLIVAN - "His Playing Will Always Be In My Heart And Live On"

Riff Notes

Posted on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 at 10:36:46 EST

The "unsung pioneer of British rock guitar", Big Jim Sullivan, passed away yesterday (October 2nd).

Former DEEP PURPLE guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore has issued the following statement:

"I first met Jim Sullivan in 1958. He was introduced to me by my sister-in-law's brother. We both lived in the same area: in Middlesex, Cranford. He was playing with Marty Wilde and THE WILDCATS. He showed me another level of playing. He was probably the most advanced guitarist in the London area. I would listen to the radio every week there was a Marty Wilde show. Jim was often featured on the show so I was glued to the radio. He also made some great instrumentals. One being 'Trambone' and one being 'Peak Hour'. He was the first guitarist to play through a wah wah pedal. It was a Deamond foot volume and tone control. I remember an instrumental called 'The Bat', where he used the pedal. That would've been around 1959. Last time I saw Jim was in LA where he was playing with TOM JONES. He was one of England's finest players, a mentor and a good friend for me. His playing will always be in my heart and live on. God bless you Jim."

Sullivan impacted on the Deep Purple story when at the age of 16 he began giving guitar lessons from the front room of his London home. Blackmore was an early visitor. “Richie was a precocious talent even then," said Sullivan. And "he learned to be an individual very quickly. To be truthful I think that telling him to be an individual and making him use his little finger is all I needed to tell him. The rest was natural to him.”

Sullivan later teamed up with Deep Purple producer Derek Lawrence to begin their own record label, Retreat, and wrote and produced a load of records, including US glam metal outfit ANGEL and the 1971 studio project GREEN BULLFROG, where the musicians - including Blackmore and Ian Paice - were billed under pseudonyms.

Sullivan also had connections with LED ZEPPELIN, reportedly lending Jimmy Page the acoustic used on their third album. He recalled leaving one eventful meeting with the band. “As I walked out, on the carpet there was foam about this deep and a naked girl goes sliding past. And then another one. Followed by John Paul Jones and John Bonham.”

Read more at Darker Than Blue.