Robert C. Sullivan
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 09/1944 - 1946
Infantryman/cryptographer technician, 13th Air Force
Audio Samples

Bob was born the son of Wimberley and Jessie Lauderdale Sullivan in Bossier City, Louisiana, where the family lived near the levee on the Red River. "I remember we used to go to the store and get a paste board box and flatten it out and go up on the levee and slide down. That was a big thing. And we'd fly kites out over the river," he recalls of his childhood. The family moved a few times, usually remaining in Bossier City. "It was during the Depression and I can remember seeing a train come in and the flat cars would have people sitting on them," Bob recalls. Some of those hungry travelers came for food at his house that was bulging with other Sullivan family members out of work. Bob and his brother and sister slept on the floor. His father worked full-time, however, for LORECO Oil Refinery in Bossier City, making 50 cents an hour. Moving to Castor, Louisiana, his father built a four-room house and began farming. Bob worked on the farm and attended a nearby black church, Rosenwald Baptist. "I was the only white kid over there," he said. "There's where I got a love of black music." That love of music deepened when his mother gave him a Gibson guitar. Soon he joined a group that played for "house parties" held in homes. Bob graduated from Castor High School in 1944 and was drafted "the minute I finished high school". He completed basic training at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Arkansas, then after more training at Camp Maxey in Paris, Texas, was shipped out to the Pacific in summer of 1945. In the Philippines he served as a cryptographic technician and ran an Armed Forces Radio Service. "I enjoyed the Philippines. I enjoyed the whole army experience because I'd never been anywhere," he explains. On September 23, 1949 Bob married Jewel Riley. (They would have three children, nine grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.) Back in Shreveport he often was in a studio where Tillman Franks taught guitar. "Tillman told me one day, `Hey, there's a job opening at KWKH if you want to check into it.'" Bob began working at the station in 1949 as an early morning announcer for live music, including bands and solo artists such as Hank Williams. He also played at night around the area with Red Sovine, Webb Pierce, and others. Bob worked with Hank Williams who performed live at 7 a.m. on weekday mornings on KWKH. "He called everyone `Hoss' or `Ace'," Bob recalls. On Saturday nights, Bob worked at Louisiana Hayride. Meanwhile, he recorded many of the program's musicians at KWKH, including Johnny Horton, Sonny James, Jim Reeves, and Slim Whitman, whose Indian Love Call overtook Williams' Kaw-Liga on the charts. Bob recalls the first night Elvis Presley played the Louisiana Hayride. He and his band were "literally scared to death," he recalls. "They were sweating profusely. They'd never played before thirty-eight hundred people before and on the air at that. But anyway, he went on that night and from that point on he just got bigger and bigger and bigger." Bob left KWKH in 1959 to work at Clifford Herring Sound in Fort Worth. About 18 months later he opened Summit Studios in 1963 in Dallas. It became, he says, the biggest studio in Texas, where he recorded groups as large as choirs. In time he recorded Sonny and Cher, Carol Channing, Patty Page, James Brown and Bob Wills. He recorded the Rolling Stones for an album that has never been released. He also recorded the first psychedelic music album, Thirteenth Floor Elevators. He left Summit Studios in 1980 and did freelance recording around the country and in Europe. He now lives in McAlester, Oklahoma.