Guitarist Hiram Bullock Dies at 52

Hiram Bullock, a guitarist with a lengthy list of credits that included two years as a member of the house band on Late Night with David Letterman, died in New York on July 25th. The cause of death was not disclosed but Bullock had been undergoing treatment for cancer and was known to have had drug problems. Bullock was 52.

Bullock was born in Osaka, Japan in 1955 to American parents serving in the military; the family later settled in Baltimore. He studied piano, saxophone and bass before settling on guitar. Bullock attended the University of Miami’s music school and then landed his first professional gig with singer Phyllis Hyman-he moved to New York in the mid-’70s in order to work with Hyman’s band.

Once in Manhattan, Bullock began to work steadily, with artists such as David Sanborn and the Brecker Brothers. He formed a group called the 24th Street Band that included bassist Will Lee, drummer Steve Jordan and keyboardist Clifford Carter. Letterman’s bandleader Paul Shaffer hired Bullock, Lee and Jordan to be the core of the show’s World’s Most Dangerous Band, and Bullock-who often performed barefoot on the show-was a regular from 1982-84.

Beginning in 1976, Bullock was an in-demand session guitarist, appearing on albums by Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel, Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Sting, Hank Crawford, Bob James, Carla Bley, Gil Evans, Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, Pete Townshend, Art Farmer, Kenny Loggins, Mike Stern, Eric Clapton, Burt Bacharach and many others. He also performed live with Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, James Brown, Al Green, the Brecker Brothers, Chaka Khan, James Taylor and others, and released more than a dozen records under his own name, beginning in 1982 with First Class Vagabond. His most recent releases was 2006’s Too Funky 2 Ignore.