Jim Sullivan – Jump Start! The Art of Effective Pre-Shift Meetings
Sullivan grew up in the Linda Vista area of San Diego, California, where his Irish-American parents had moved from Nebraska to work in the defense industry. A tall man, he was a high school quarterback. According to self-written liner notes on his first LP, he “grew up in a government housing project with a bunch of other Okies and Arkies,” and decided to play music after listening to local blues groups. He married, and played guitar in a local rock band, the Survivors, with his sister-in-law Kathie Doran. He and a friend bought a bar near to their college, but it lost money, and in 1968 he moved with his wife Barbara and young son to Los Angeles.
While his wife worked at Capitol Records, Sullivan wrote songs and performed in increasingly prestigious clubs in the Los Angeles area. In particular, he became established at the Raft club in Malibu, where he became friends with Hollywood figures including Lee Majors, Lee Marvin, and Harry Dean Stanton. He appeared as an extra in the movie Easy Rider, and performed on the José Feliciano television show. His friends contributed the funding that allowed him to record an album of his songs with leading Los Angeles session musicians, keyboard player Don Randi, drummer Earl Palmer, and bass player Jimmy Bond, who was also the record’s arranger and co-record producer. After Nick Venet at Capitol turned down the opportunity to release the record, it was issued by Sullivan’s friend Al Dobbs on a small record label, Monnie, a label he set up for that purpose. The album, U.F.O., was released in 1969, and featured Sullivan’s songs in a style blending folk, rock and country that has been compared with Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Gene Clark and Joe South, with arrangements in the style of David Axelrod.
The album was remixed and reissued by Century City Records in 1970, and the track “Rosey” was issued as a single, but they made little impact at the time. Sullivan continued to perform in clubs, and he re-recorded the UFO song “Highway” for RCA Records as a promotional single, but no contract resulted. In 1972, he recorded a second album, Jim Sullivan, arranged by Jim Hughart, produced by Lee Burch and released by Playboy Records. Again, however, the record was unsuccessful. As Sullivan increasingly turned to alcohol and his marriage began to disintegrate, he decided in 1975 to travel to Nashville, where Kathie Doran was working as a singer and songwriter, and try to find success there.
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