Last week, we brought you the first account of our own Matt Sullivan’s harrowing quest to complete the upcoming Light in the Attic reissue of Jim Sullivan’s 1969 album “U.F.O.” Matt is currently in Los Angeles, where he has been desperately seeking an elusive figure named Jimmy Bond. Bond produced “U.F.O.” and the hope is he might still own the original master tapes of the record, or at least know where they are located. After many dead ends, Matt recently received a solid lead as to Bond’s whereabouts. Can Matt finally locate this man of mystery? Will those prized masters finally end up in his hands? Read Matt’s latest dispatch to find out:
“After eight months, and what feels like hundreds of phone calls, e-mails, letters, fax transmissions, the hiring of private detectives, telepathy and palm readings, I’ve finally located U.F.O. producer and legendary Wrecking Crew bassist Jimmy Bond. Hallelujah! He’s possibly the only man still with us who can shed some light on this mysterious record. And who knows, maybe he’s got the original analog master tapes.
One thing is certain, the stars must have aligned on this day. How a man that’s played on so many brilliant albums can be so impossible to locate is beyond me. Definitely one of the more difficult searches I’ve conducted. Anyone involved in a proper reissue - Sadly, there’s not many of us left. Numero, you guys know how it’s done – understands the process of locating a long-lost artist and uncovering their story is what we do, but it never gets easier. The process can drive you mad, but the chase is always the best part.
Bond’s former neighbor Jake was the guiding light. He located a working number for Jimmy’s son, who I soon learned doesn’t check his voice mail. One week and 10 calls later, Jimmy Jr. calls back, and within minutes I have a meeting with Jimmy Sr. the next day. Nervous and anxious, we drive to Westwood to meet the man. We take the elevator to the 22nd floor, but we can’t find his apartment. Someone passes us in the hallway, asking ‘are those Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on random doors?’ Finally, we find his apartment. Bond’s lovely daughter – in town celebrating her 50th birthday and looking not a day over 40 – and her wonderful mom, kindly greet us. His son and daughter warned us that their dad’s health has been shaky of late. When we are finally allowed to enter his room, Jimmy greets us with a warm smile and tells us to sit. He’s lying in bed. He’s in good spirits, but feeling a bit weak. I nervously ask him about Jim Sullivan. Sadly, he doesn’t remember a thing. Not even Sullivan’s name. I show him the album cover – nothing. I tell Jimmy about Sullivan’s story – how he made this record with Bond and fellow Wrecking Crew alums like Don Randi and Earl Palmer; how Sullivan recorded a single for RCA and an album for the Playboy label following U.F.O.; how Sullivan mysteriously vanished in March 1975 in New Mexico, never to be seen or heard from again.
Neither Jimmy nor his family had any recollection of any of this. But the moment I start playing the record – the five of us listening to the eerie strings on “Jerome,” the album’s first song – Jimmy’s eyes immediately light up. It was clear a spark had gone off. He was in poor health, and 41 years had passed since recording the LP, but Jimmy sat there intently, taking in every little thing, his eyes lighting up upon each change. Then he choked up. Was it hearing Palmer’s sublime percussion? Sullivan’s mellow vocal delivery? His own galloping bass? Something had clicked. I asked, ‘Jimmy, do you remember it?’ ‘Of course,’ he replied. ‘I remembered it after the first three bars.’ His memories of the time were few, but it didn’t matter. We sat listening to all 10 tracks – all glorious 29 minutes. I had goosebumps the entire time.
After the album ended, I asked, ‘Jimmy, any chance you’ve got those U.F.O. master tapes under your bed?’ He laughed, and replied, ‘Of course! They’ve been in my bedroom forever.’ If only. I knew the chances were slim, but I had to ask. He understood. We spoke about his life and career. He said he was born in Philadelphia in the early ’30s, was trained at Julliard and played with too many legends to name. I asked about a few of my favorites – Nina Simone (he’s the bassist on her debut LP, including the tune ‘I Loves You Porgy’), Fred Neil (that’s Jimmy on the original version of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘), Chet Baker (Chet Baker Sings), Charlie Parker (as a teenager, Jimmy played with Bird), Lou Rawls and David Axelrod. Jimmy said that eventually it got too difficult to make a decent living as a session player, so he got into real estate and had great success as a realtor in L.A. The guy’s life is like a film. I wish I would have recorded our conversation. How Wax Poetics hasn’t done a feature on Jimmy doesn’t add up. Andre, you reading this?
And what about U.F.O.? I’m still on the hunt for those masters. Chances are slim, though. In the meantime, I’ve located three vinyl copies of the ultra-rare original LP (thanks Geoffrey, John and Cool Chris). Our mastering guru (the amazing Dave Cooley) is working his magic. This is a record more difficult to find than a needle in a haystack. It looks like a fall release if all goes as planned – and it rarely does.
Anyone out there got those U.F.O. masters under their bed?”