Beale Street Fixture Silky Sullivan Has Died

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(Memphis) In front of Silky ‘O Sullivan’s Bar on historic Beale Street, a flower is placed on the sidewalk, but it’s no way as colorful as the life of bar owner and businessman, Thomas ‘Silky’ Sullivan.

Dennis Flanagan is a friend of Sullivan’s and the bar’s comptroller, “Silky was truly one of the most flamboyant people I’ve ever run across and I’ve run across some flamboyant people and Silky truly loved Memphis and he was from Memphis, loved Beale Street and this establishment.”

For decades, the 71-year-old flamboyant promoter and idea guy was one of the iconic faces in Memphis.

Who could forget him holding court and every year celebrating St. Patrick’s day with his annual tradition of the raising of the goat.

Ty Agee is president of the Beale Street Merchants Association, “He would sit out there with that crown on the front of his place and table and he would hold court and did that for years and remembered people’s names and he was just so good and he loved people.”

Twenty-one years ago, Sullivan opened his bar at a time when Beale Street was struggling.

John Elkington is the CEO of Performa Entertainment, the agency that once managed Beale Street, “When he came here, we hadn’t turned the corner and he took on a building that didn’t have a floor in it and made it special and the patio made it special.”

He also promoted the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities on Overton Square where he first opened Silky Sullivan’s Bar and led the Blessing of the Kegs pub crawl, and where he never met a stranger.

Kevin Kane is the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau president, “Silky made everybody feel welcomed, people from all over the world. He was Mr. Irish hospitality. He would go to Ireland and led our St. Patrick’s Day parade for so many years. It’s a big loss for the city,” Kane said.

Silky Sullivan, a one of a kind character, businessman and people person who many say is possibly still making new friends, no matter where he is.

“Silky’s going to be alright. When he gets to Heaven, he’s not going to have any problems. He’ll make friends very quickly and he’ll be holding court(laughter),” Elkington said.

As of Friday funeral services were incomplete.

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