Beale Street bar icon Silky Sullivan dies - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Beale Street bar icon Silky Sullivan dies

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Silky Sullivan Silky Sullivan
Silky O'Sullivans on Beale Street Silky O'Sullivans on Beale Street

(WMC-TV) - Thomas "Silky" Sullivan, owner of a popular club on Beale Street, has died.

According to Action News 5 sources, Sullivan died as a result of complications from a recent surgery.

Silky opened his first restaurant, Silky Sullivans, at Overton Square. What would become a famous Beale Street club was opened afterward, adding the 'O' to the name.

Sullivan's friends have nothing but good things to say about the Memphis bar icon.

"He was bigger than life. He was Mr. hospitality, a great ambassador for the city," said Kevin Kane, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. "When you look at the two biggest entertainment districts in the history of the city, Overton Square and Beale street, he was an anchor of both at both of them and he never met a stranger. He made everybody feel welcome no matter where they were from, even if they weren't Irish."

From Ireland to Cuba, Sullivan made friends everywhere he went, spreading goodwill and a good word about Memphis.

He was famous for his beer drinking goats, his wild costumes, and his compassion for the city and its people.

In addition to being a colorful character, Sullivan was a wise businessman. In the best and worst of economic times, Silky O'Sullivans on Beale Street was and still is one of the highest grossing establishments in the entertainment district.

Here are some fun facts about Silky Sullivan:

  • In 2009 he ran for mayor.
  • In 2006, when scientists discovered a new planet, he lobbied to name it Planet Elvis.
  • In 2005 he announced his personal plan for the Pyramid. He wanted to turn it into the United Nations of Children.

Since Silky loved a party and a parade, a celebration will be held in his honor early next week on Beale Street. A procession will be held Monday starting at 1 p.m. from 4th and Beale Street following his funeral.

Details on his funeral arrangements are still being worked out.

"That's the kind of guy he was and wherever he went he had something good to say about Memphis," said Beale Street Merchants Association President Ty Agee.

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