April 8, 2004 by

Niki Sullivan


Categories: Musicians

Niki Sullivan, a member of the band Buddy Holly and the Crickets, died on April 6. Cause of death was not released. He was 66.
Sullivan was born in California but raised in Lubbock, Tex. He served in the Navy for a short period then returned home and became a professional musician. He played rhythm guitar and sang backup with Buddy Holly and the Crickets on 27 of the 32 songs Holly recorded before his death. Sullivan was known in the press as the “other one with glasses.”
The Crickets’ first record sold 50,000 copies. The band appeared on “American Bandstand” and “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and shared the stage with early rock ‘n’ roll legends such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Drifters, the Everly Brothers and Paul Anka. Sullivan quit the group in 1957 to take a break from the hectic touring schedule. In 1959, a plane carrying Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens crashed, killing everyone on board.
Sullivan recorded a single as a solo artist that attained modest regional success, but he stopped performing in the 1970s. His final years were spent living near Kansas City and working at Sony Electronics. He was inducted into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame in 1986.

4 Responses to Niki Sullivan

  1. Kim

    I was thrilled to death when I met Niki Sullivan at the Buddy Holly Tribute in 1981. Here I was, 18 years old, attending my first Tribute, and getting my picture taken with one of the original Crickets. Niki handed my camera to his friend Stu and on the count of “three” he gave me a kiss on the cheek just as the picture was snapped. I’ll never forget that night or Niki, one of the nicest, friendliest men you could ever meet!

  2. bob needham

    I too had a once in a life time memory in Clear Lake Iowa on Feb 3 1979, when I spent quality time during the weekend with Niki, Jimmy Clanton and Del Shannon. They were good enough to invite me to the rehearsals and press conference. I sat with beside Niki at his table the night of the show where he performed a memorable “That’ll be The Day”. Made one feel Buddy Holly would make an appearance on stage. I am not sure why I was so blessed that weekend but am always grateful for the open acceptance and comradery shown to me by Niki. Thanks for the memory Niki.–
    PS. I still have, the only request I made that weekend of anyone, the card you signed…. “The Crickets”

  3. Mike Cox

    After watching the Buddy Holly story today, and wondering why they did not include Niki, I tried looking him up only to find out he is gone. I did not know that he had passed away almost 4 years ago. I met him when I was 9 or 10 years old, when he spent the day at our school when we were having a “Fifties” party. What a great guy! It was hard to beleve he was a Rock legend, he was so nice and normal. It was easy to tell that he really cared about kids, and I just wish I had got a picture or autograph back then. RIP Niki.

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