Kentucky born guitar ace Roy Sullivan got his start as a dance combo leader while breaking into the Nashville scene in the early fifties. Sullivan took a shot at recording as a solo vocalist in the early sixties with a tune called I Ain't Never Got No Nothing. Unfortunately, the song failed to impress local DJs.
Sullivan quickly bounced back as an instrumentalist with trademark guitar styling, along with his vibraphone and harmonica skills. Sullivan became a regular on the Nashville circuit and rumor has it played with The Man in Black himself, although no recording of these alleged sessions has survived.
Throughout the sixties Sullivans talents popped up on a number of high profile releases, including Jackie Collins and the Mountain Dogs recording of My Little Heartbreaker and Lola Prices Mule Skinner Man.
In the summer of 1972, a frustrated Sullivan joined forces with a dynamic new comer named Adam "Fingers" Banjo, a red-hot banjo picker from Mississippi. Banjo had just recently quit the volatile bluegrass outfit Kings of the Road and was in the market for a more pleasant musical situation.
The newly christened Banjo & Sullivan recorded their debut album together on Chester Brown's Broken Strings label entitled, Two Silver Tongue Devils (Who Ain't Got a Clue). The album made little noise on the country charts, but did manage to garner the band a strong local following on the honky-tonk circuit due to the crowd pleaser Dick Soup and the instrumental rave up Roys Ramble.
The frustrated duo changed labels in the spring of 1974, moving over to Delta Joes Cherry Blossom Records. Their first release under this new banner was Im Trying to Quit, But I Just Quit Trying. Around this same time, Roy Sullivan married his longtime girlfriend Gloria Harrison, a respected studio singer in her own right. The new Mrs. Gloria Sullivan would soon join the group on piano and backing vocals and can be heard on the track I Don't Give a Truck.
Success continued to elude Banjo & Sullivan until the summer of 1975 when their novelty song I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed) reached ..34 on the Hot Country 100. Feeling their luck had changed, Banjo & Sullivan quickly released their next single She Didnt Like Me (But She Loved My Money). The song reached ..23 on the Hot 100 and help to drive the sales of their latest album Country Bumpkin Pumpkin into the top twenty.
Love reared its head in the summer of 1976 when Adam Banjo met a young backup singer named Wendy Clark backstage at The Grand Ole Opry. The couple soon married in the spring of 1977. Wendy joined the group soon after on backing vocals and tambourine.
This newest incarnation returned to the studio in the summer of 1977 and emerged with their finest record to date, a darkly inspired album entitled Where the End Meets the Road featuring some of the groups most mature songwriting yet. This new serious approach is most evident on the ominous track Lord, Dont Let Me Die In A Cheap Motel and the sinister Killer on the Lamb.
Run-In with The Devil's RejectsEdit
On a blistering hot day in 1978, on tour behind the success of the latest single, a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird. Banjo & Sullivan checked into the Kahiki Palms Motel after having just finished a rousing set of shows with Johnny Claxton and the Jug Boys at the legendary Barn Door Roadhouse.
Unfortunately, this is where our story turns very grim.
Over a hundred miles away from the Kahiki Palms Motel in Ruggsville County, police had just uncovered a grisly crime scene left behind by a group later to be nicknamed The Devil's Rejects by the local media. Unfortunately, two of the most violent members of this group evaded the police and sought a safe haven at The Kahiki Palms.
The exact details surrounding the crimes are unknown, but what is known is that Gloria Sullivan, Wendy Banjo and roadie/guitar tech Jimmy Cracker were murdered by the two escaped felons.
The exact fate of Roy Sullivan and Adam Banjo has never been discovered, but sadly both are presumed dead.
It is a tragic story that such a promising career was cut down on its way up. The album Lord, Don't Let Me Die In A Cheap Motel skyrocketed after ironic news of this tragic incident hit the media. The album would go on to sell over one million copies.
The best way to sum up Banjo & Sullivan is in the words of the men themselves:
"All I ever wanted was to quit my truck driving job, drink a few beers, bed some cute honeys and play my guitar until the cows came home." - Roy Sullivan
- Roy Sullivan - vocals, guitar
- Adam Banjo - vocals, banjo
- Gloria Sullivan - backing vocals
- Wendy Banjo - backing vocals