The Curious Case of Rock & Roll's Jim Sullivan

If you happened to have a listen of the recent playlist Josh Stewart did for the Jenkem website a week or so ago, you might have noticed a few track choices that were rather Theories appropriate. The track by Donovan entitled "Atlantis" is definitely an obvious one and maybe the song "The old mans back again" might have gone over the heads of those of you who aren't aware of Josh's eternal lower back problems from 20 years of filming. But perhaps the most appropriate was a track entitled "UFO" by a rather unknown rocker from the 1970's named Jim Sullivan.

Jim Sullivan was an obscure musician who had little to no commercial success. Even though his debut album in 1969 entitled "UFO" was clearly an awesome piece of work, it is not always for a lack of talent that artists do not succeed.


Jim's failure at pop success drove him to perform in local Los Angeles clubs and he became fairly well known in Malibu where he performed regularly at a night club called "The Raft". But Jim's failure to reach success eventually drove him to alcoholism and caused a strain in his relationship with his wife and son. After his second album failed to boost his success any further in 1975, Jim decided to pack up and drive out to Nashville where he thought he could find better work. But little did Jim know, or maybe he did, that his fate was prophetically already written in the words of his most memorable song 6 years before:

"Shakin like a leaf on the desert heat,
his daddy's got a bog that's hard to beat
Bought me a ticket got a front row seat.
I'm checkin out the show with a glassy eye.
Looking at the sun dancing through the sky.
Did he come by UFO?"

Jim packed up his Volkswagen Beetle and set out across the desert southwest bound for Nashville with his guitar, records, and his life's possessions bound for a better life. But soon after his departure, it was the discovery of that very same Volkswagen, parked near a ranch in New Mexico that prompted police to launch a manhunt for the recording artist who had vanished into thin air...never to be seen again.

Retracing the 24 hours leading up to Jim's disappearance, police reported that he had been stopped for swerving on the highway the day before. But after being issued a sobriety test it was determined that he was just fatigued from driving for 15 hours straight. So Jim stopped at a roadside motel and rented a room. But when police later investigated they found the bed had never been slept in and the room keys had been locked inside the room. And perhaps most peculiar was the fact that in Jim's car police found his wallet, appointment book, clothes, reel-to-reel tapes, a box of his recently released self-titled album and even his guitar. But no clue as to where Jim had gone nor why. His family flew out and joined in the hunt, but after an extensive search of the area, not a trace was found. And soon theories began to swirl that Jim had met the very fate he had written about years before, and been abducted by a UFO. And with no explanation from authorities and no trace of Jim's whereabouts, it sounded like about as good an explanation of any.

To this day 40 years later, Jim Sullivan's disappearance still remains a mystery. But his most impactful song continues to haunt the imaginations of fans and UFO buffs alike. For a man who left behind as haunting a song and as fatefully titled an album as "UFO", it's pretty hard to believe that he would meet such a bizarre fate as to disappear on a desert road by unexplained circumstances. And it now gives you a pretty rad story to tell your friends next time the song pops up on your playlist.