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Beale Street Icon Silky Sullivan Dies

Beale Street icon and entrepreneur Silky Sullivan has passed away.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Beale Street is singing the blues. Thomas “Silky” Sullivan died early Friday morning after battling a prolonged illness.

The 71-year-old entrepreneur and owner of Silky O’Sullivan’s on Beale Street was an ambassador for Memphis everywhere he went.

For as long as Beale Street's been an icon, so has Silky Sullivan; he's often credited for making Beale Street what it is today.

"He was a character bigger than life, he was a PT Barnum, he was a juggernaut," said Dennis Flanagan. "He was an ambassador of Memphis, he was an all around outrageous fellow."

Flanagan worked for Sullivan for 40 years, but more than that, they were friends.

"You know we walked through this together, it was an exciting 15 year run down here for me and it's sad, it's the end of an era."

What Sullivan started on Beale in the early 90’s has become nothing short of extraordinary.

"I'm a little bit jaded, but I think that Silky's made Beale Street," Flanagan said.

"We were just growing then, we were just starting to grow and Silky's was one of the anchors on the street that established us as a district, a big name that everybody knows," said Al James, President of Performa Entertainment.

Flanagan added, "It was a risk and a gamble but they offered him this building, which is in a wonderful location, and he always, always accepted a challenge. He saw the light, he saw how big this was going to become, not just Silky's but Beale Street, and how instrumental it would be in bringing Memphis out of the ashes."

Visitation will be 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Sunday and noon-1:00 p.m. on Monday at Memphis Funeral Home on Poplar. The funeral will be at 1:00 p.m. on Monday.

There will also be a Beale Street parade to honor Silky following the funeral at approximately 2:00 p.m., westbound from 4th and Beale. Of course his throne will be prominently displayed.

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