Beale Street bar owner Thomas "Silky" Sullivan has passed away at the age of 71 as a result of health problems. Silky opened Silky O' Sullivan's on Beale in 1992, and he previously ran Silky Sullivan's in Overton Square from 1973 to 1998.
According to a source at the Beale Street Merchants Association, Silky's wife Joellyn reported that Silky was not feeling well on Thursday due to lingering complications from colon surgery. As they were arranging to drive him to the ER, he fainted and 911 was called. He seemed to recover briefly and chatted with Silky's house manager Johnny Price. He responded to questions asked by the EMTs. But as he was positioned on a stretcher, he fainted again and stopped breathing. He was rushed to the ER but never recovered. He had been scheduled for surgery next week.
In an email to the Beale Street Merchants Association, Joellyn had this to say about Silky's passing: "Silky lived a full life with loads of friends. Please share this news for me. There’s a party in heaven with some fabulous dancing going on right now."
Silky was well-loved on Beale and during his Overton Square days for his boisterous manner and sense of humor. His bar on Beale has become a tourist attraction, thanks to beer-drinking goats and massive mystery "diver" cocktails served in buckets.
Silky celebrated the 40th anniversary of his bar and the St. Patrick's Day pub crawl this past March. The Flyer interviewed him for the occasion. Here's what he had to say. Years ago, Silky was also the subject of a Memphis Flyer cover story on the "The King of the Irish." Silky was named King Pontchartrain by the Krewe of Pontchartrain in this past year's Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans.