In 1969, a musician named Jim Sullivan recorded an album called "U.F.O." and disappeared six years later without a trace, the only piece of evidence being his abandoned car found on a desert road.
Jim Sullivan was the kind of California character who seemed to have stepped straight out of a Pynchon or DeLillo novel "a 6-foot" 2 singer and songwriter known as Sully with a magnetic personality and a handlebar mustache. His dramatic psych-folk songs were spacious, cinematic and edged with mystic, lonesome brooding. His social circle included actors and Hollywood hangers-on, and he'd had brushes with fame, including an uncredited part in "Easy Rider" with his friend Dennis Hopper.
On his 1969 debut album, "U.F.O.," he sang of beckoning highways, of aliens, of an Arizona ghost town, of a man who looked "so natural" in death it was clearly his time to go. Six years later, the 35-year-old Sullivan disappeared in Santa Rosa, N.M. On the front seat of his recovered gray VW bug were his ID, his beloved 12-string Guild guitar, and a box of his two albums, "U.F.O." and the 1972 LP "Jim Sullivan."
Various theories began to spread, involving the Mafia, the police and extraterrestrials. Barbara Sullivan took solace in the idea that her husband was abducted by aliens; it was easier, perhaps, than some of the alternatives. "My parents weren't addled by any great intake of drugs but they were very much of their times and believed in reincarnation and astrology," Chris Sullivan said. "She was convinced he was up in the stars somewhere, waiting for her."