Jim Sullivan became something of a legend indirectly through this bit of extraterrestrial mythology, but he wasn’t around to see it happen. A native of San Diego, Sullivan became a staple of Hollywood clubs in the 1960s, becoming friends with actors like Lee Majors and Harry Dean Stanton, even landing a small part in Easy Rider.
It sounds pretty good on paper, but whatever success Sullivan had locally turned out to be increasingly difficult to turn into a successful recording career. Despite the fact that his wife worked at Capitol Records, the famed label passed on his debut album U.F.O., which was instead picked up by the smaller Monnie imprint, and at the time was released to low sales and little to no radio impact.
A follow-up ended up being released on the short-lived Playboy Records, part of Hugh Hefner’s media empire, but that too proved disappointing. His career flailing, Sullivan sought refuge in alcohol, and in turn his marriage fell apart. Seeking a fresh start, Sullivan left Los Angeles for Nashville in his Volkswagen Beetle on March 4, 1975. After arriving in New Mexico the next day, Sullivan would never be seen again.
Sullivan’s disappearance remains one of the great mysteries of popular music. He left very few clues as to where he went or what he was doing at the time he went missing; he had checked into the La Mesa Motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, but he never actually slept there. He was last seen at a ranch 26 miles away, where he left his car full of all his earthly belongings—including his money, his guitar, and a box of unsold records. And though later on a body thought to be Sullivan’s was found a few miles away, it turned out to be someone else.
Nobody knows what happened to Sullivan, though theories abound. Some believe he was murdered, or that possibly while intoxicated he became disoriented and wandered off, ultimately dying of exposure in the desert. There’s a less plausible but still possible idea that he might have simply disappeared by choice. But there’s one theory that follows the lore surrounding Jim Sullivan after all this time, and you absolutely know where this is going: He was possibly abducted by aliens.
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