Guitarist Big Jim Sullivan Dead at 71

Musician was said to have played on 55 Number One singles

Big Jim Sullivan
Rob Monk/Total Guitar magazine via Getty Images
Big Jim Sullivan
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Big Jim Sullivan, an acclaimed session guitarist who played with David Bowie, Tom Jones, the Kinks and Marianne Faithfull, has died at home in England, the BBC reports. He was 71 and had suffered from heart disease and diabetes.

Sullivan was one of the most in-demand session players of the Sixties and Seventies. He claimed to have played on more than 1,000 songs, including 55 Number One singles, with credits including Bowie's "Space Oddity," Shirley Bassey's "Goldfinger," Petula Clark's "Downtown," the Kinks' "You Really Got Me," Faithfull's version of "As Tears Go By" and Jones' "What's New Pussycat?" 

Born James Tomkins, Sullivan began playing guitar professionally when he was 16. He was the backing guitarist when Eddie Cochran died in a car crash while on a tour of England with Gene Vincent in 1960. Sullivan also gave guitar lessons to future Deep Purple founder Ritchie Blackmore and was a member of Jones' touring band from 1969-74.