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Thomas Richard Bolin (August 1, 1951 – December 4, 1976) was an American guitarist and songwriter who played with Zephyr (from 1969 to 1971), James Gang (from 1973 through 1974), and Deep Purple (from 1975 to 1976), in addition to maintaining a notable career as a solo artist and session musician. Much of his discography was either unreleased at the time of recording, or had gone out of print and was not released again until years after his death by drug overdose at age 25.
Bolin in 1975
|Birth name||Thomas Richard Bolin|
|Born||August 1, 1951|
Sioux City, Iowa, U.S.
|Died||December 4, 1976 (aged 25)|
Miami, Florida, U.S.
|Genres||Hard rock, blues rock, funk rock, jazz fusion|
|Associated acts||Zephyr, Billy Cobham, James Gang, Deep Purple, Moxy, Alphonse Mouzon, Energy, A Patch of Blue|
Tommy Bolin was born in Sioux City, Iowa and began playing with a band called The Miserlous before he was asked to join another band called Denny and The Triumphs, in 1964 at the young age of thirteen. The band included Dave Stokes on lead vocals, Brad Miller on guitar and vocals, Tommy Bolin on lead guitar, Steve Bridenbaugh on organ and vocals and finally Denny Foote on bass & Brad Larvick on drums. They played a blend of rock and roll, R&B and the pop hits of the moment, and when bassist Denny Foote left the band to be replaced by the drummer's brother George Larvick Jr, they changed their name and became A Patch of Blue. An album was released in 1999, Patch of Blue Live! from two 1967 concerts in Correctionville, Iowa and in Sioux City. In 1999, the band was inducted in the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Tommy moved to Boulder, Colorado in his late teens and then played in a band called American Standard (with future songwriting collaborator Jeff Cook) before joining Ethereal Zephyr, a band named after a train that ran between Denver and Chicago. When record companies became interested, the name was shortened to Zephyr. This band included Bolin on lead guitar, David Givens on bass, and Givens' wife Candy Givens on vocals. The band had begun to do larger venues, opening for more established acts such as Led Zeppelin. Their second album, entitled Going Back to Colorado, featured a new drummer, Bobby Berge, who would pop up from time to time in musician credits in album liner notes from Bolin's later projects.
In 1972, the 20-year old Bolin formed the fusion jazz-rock-blues band Energy. Unable to secure a record contract, the band never released an album during Bolin's lifetime. However, several recordings have been released posthumously. Bolin briefly reunited with David and Candy Givens in a band called the 4-Nikators, after which he took nearly a year off from music. During this time, he wrote close to a hundred songs.
James Gang and Billy CobhamEdit
Stuck between the musical direction he wanted to pursue and a nearly-empty bank account, 1973 found Tommy replacing Domenic Troiano, who had replaced Joe Walsh, in the James Gang. He recorded two James Gang records: Bang in 1973 and Miami in 1974. Bolin wrote or co-wrote all but one song on these two albums.
In between the two James Gang albums, Bolin played on Mahavishnu Orchestra member Billy Cobham's solo album Spectrum, which included Bolin on guitar, Cobham on drums, Leland Sklar on bass and Jan Hammer (also of Mahavishnu Orchestra) on keyboards and synthesizers.
After the Miami tour, Bolin wanted out of the James Gang. He went on to do session work for numerous rock bands and also with a number of jazz artists including Alphonse Mouzon's album Mind Transplant, considered "easily one of the best fusion recordings of all time" by AllMusic reviewer Robert Taylor. He also toured with Carmine Appice and The Good Rats. At the start of 1975, Bolin was a guest studio guitarist for Canadian band Moxy during the recording of their debut album, on which Tommy contributed guitar solos for six songs.
First solo album and Deep PurpleEdit
Later in 1975, Bolin signed with Nemperor records to record a solo album. Bolin was encouraged and coached by The Beach Boys to do his own vocals on this album as well. Session players on this record included David Foster, David Sanborn, Jan Hammer, Stanley Sheldon, Phil Collins and Glenn Hughes (uncredited due to contractual reasons). During the recording of this album, he was contacted by Deep Purple.
After Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple, the band had a meeting and discussed whether to disband or try to find a replacement, and chose the latter option. David Coverdale had been listening to the Billy Cobham LP Spectrum, on which Tommy was lead guitarist for four songs. He decided he wanted Tommy in Deep Purple, and invited him over for a jam. He jammed with the band for four hours and the job was his. The band then relocated to Munich, Germany to begin work on Come Taste the Band. Bolin wrote or co-wrote seven of the record's nine tracks, including the instrumental "Owed to G," which was a tribute to George Gershwin. Come Taste the Band was released in October 1975, and Australian, Japanese and US tours ensued. Bolin's solo album Teaser was released in November, but his obligations to Deep Purple meant he couldn't support his own album with a tour.
— Karen Ulibarri-Hughes, Bolin's long-time girlfriend.
While the Come Taste the Band album sold moderately well and revitalized Deep Purple for a time, the concert tours had many low points. Audiences expected Bolin to play solos that sounded like Blackmore's, but the guitarists' styles were very different. Tommy's issues with hard drugs plus fellow band member Glenn Hughes' cocaine addiction also led to several below-par concert performances. One such concert in Tokyo came after Tommy had passed out and fell asleep on his left arm for eight hours. At showtime, he was only able to play simple chords in a bar fashion, with keyboardist Jon Lord having to play many of the guitar parts on the organ. Unfortunately, this concert was recorded for a live album called Last Concert in Japan. Despite pleas by band members to not release the album, it came out in Japan and found its way into the UK and the US. A much better concert recording by this Deep Purple lineup was made in Long Beach, California in early 1976, and released in 1995 as King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Deep Purple in Concert.
The Tommy Bolin Band and second solo albumEdit
After Deep Purple disbanded in March 1976, Bolin was free to form the Tommy Bolin Band and he hit the road while making plans for a second solo album. The Tommy Bolin Band had a rotating cast of players which included Narada Michael Walden, Mark Stein, Norma Jean Bell, Reggie McBride, Jimmy Haslip, Max Carl Gronenthal and eventually Bolin's younger brother Johnnie Bolin on drums.
Bolin's tour for Private Eyes would be his final live appearances. He opened for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. In his final show, he opened for Beck on December 3, 1976 in Miami, and encored with a rendition of "Post Toastee." He also posed for his last photo, sitting backstage with Jeff Beck after the show, which appeared in Rolling Stone. The article in Rolling Stone stated, "Just before Bolin's final concert, Jon Marlowe of The Miami News, after an interview with the guitarist, told him, 'Take care of yourself,' to which Tommy replied, 'I've been taking care of myself my whole life. Don't worry about me. I'm going to be around for a long time.'" (Issue No. 230; page 14). Hours later, Bolin died from an overdose of heroin and other substances, including alcohol, cocaine and barbiturates. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Sioux City, Iowa.
In 1999, Bolin's former Deep Purple bandmate and good friend Glenn Hughes, embarked on a 4–5 city tribute tour in Texas. Bolin's brother, Johnnie (of Black Oak Arkansas) played drums, and Rocky Athas and Craig Erickson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) played guitar as they performed a roster of Bolin's songs.
Dean Guitars makes a Tommy Bolin tribute guitar, based on one of Tommy's favorites, being modeled as a superstrat, with 3 single coil pickups and a maple neck/fingerboard. It has a special inlay at the 12th fret, as well as a graphic modeled after his album Teaser on the body.
In 2008, a book titled Touched By Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story by author Greg Prato was released, which featured all-new interviews with former band mates, family members, and friends of Bolin's, which recounted his entire life story. The same year, a photo of Bolin was used for the front cover for the book Gettin' Tighter: Deep Purple '68–'76, by author Martin Popoff.
In 2010, several well-known artists gathered to create a tribute album titled Mister Bolin's Late Night Revival, a compilation of 17 previously unreleased tracks written by the guitar legend. The CD includes works by HiFi Superstar, Doogie White, Eric Martin, Troy Luccketta, Jeff Pilson, Randy Jackson, Rex Carroll, Rachel Barton, Derek St. Holmes, Kimberley Dahme, and The 77s. A percentage of the proceeds from this project will benefit the Jackson Recovery Centers.
Producer Greg Hampton (who has previously worked on such archival Bolin releases as Whips and Roses) co-produced (with Gov't Mule leader Warren Haynes) a star-studded tribute to Bolin, Tommy Bolin and Friends: Great Gypsy Soul, which was released in 2012, and featured contributions from Brad Whitford, Nels Cline, John Scofield, Myles Kennedy, Derek Trucks, Steve Morse, and Peter Frampton, among many others.
|1971||1971||Zephyr||Going Back to Colorado||Studio|
|1975||1974||Alphonse Mouzon||Mind Transplant||Studio|
|1975||1975||Moxy||Moxy||Studio; guitar solos (6 tracks)|
|1975||1975||Deep Purple||Come Taste the Band||Studio|
|1976||1976||Tommy Bolin||Private Eyes||Studio|
|1975||Deep Purple||Last Concert in Japan
This Time Around: Live in Tokyo
Remixed & Expanded
|1976||Deep Purple||King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: Deep Purple in Concert / On the Wings of a Russian Foxbat
Deep Purple: Extended Versions
Live at Long Beach 1976
|1989||compilation||Tommy Bolin||The Ultimate: The Best of Tommy Bolin||Greatest Hits|
|1996||compilation||Tommy Bolin||From the Archives, Vol. 1||Outtakes|
|1997||1973||Zephyr||Zephyr Live At Art's Bar And Grill, May 2, 1973||Live|
|1997||1974||Tommy Bolin & Friends||Live at Ebbets Field 1974||Live|
|1997||1976||Tommy Bolin||1976: In His Own Words||Interview|
|1997||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Live at Ebbets Field 1976||Live|
|1997||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Live at Northern Lights Recording Studio, Maynard, MA||Live|
|1997||compilation||Tommy Bolin||The Bottom Shelf, Volume 1||Outtakes|
|1997||compilation||Tommy Bolin||From the Archives, Vol. 2||Outtakes|
|1998||1972||Energy||The Energy Radio Broadcasts 1972||Live|
|1999||1967||Patch of Blue||Patch of Blue Live!||Live|
|1999||1972||Energy||Energy||Unreleased Studio album|
|1999||1974||Alphonse Mouzon||Tommy Bolin & Alphonse Mouzon Fusion Jam||Jam Sessions|
|1999||compilation||Tommy Bolin||Come Taste the Man||Outtakes|
|2000||1975||Deep Purple||Days May Come and Days May Go – The California Rehearsals: June 1975 and 1420 Beachwood Drive: The 1975 Rehearsals, Volume 2||Jam Sessions|
|2000||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||First Time Live||Live|
|2001||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Live 9/19/76||Live|
|2002||1973||Billy Cobham||Love Child: The Spectrum Sessions||Jam Sessions|
|2002||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Live in Miami at Jai Alai: The Final Show||Live|
|2002||compilation||Tommy Bolin||Naked II||Outtakes|
|2002||compilation||Tommy Bolin||After Hours: The Glen Holly Jams, Volume 1||Jam sessions|
|2003||1972||Energy||Live at Tulagi in Boulder and Rooftop Ballroom in Sioux City, December 1972||Live|
|2003||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Alive on Long Island||Live|
|2004||compilation||Billy Cobham||Rudiments: The Billy Cobham Anthology||greatest Hts|
|2005||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Albany NY, September 20, 1976||Live|
|2005||1976||Tommy Bolin Band||Live at the Jet Bar||Live|
|2005||1972||Energy||Energy||Disc 1: Energy studio CD; Disc 2: Live at Tulagi and Rooftop Ballroom|
|2006||1975||Tommy Bolin||Whips and Roses||Teaser outtakes|
|2006||1975||Tommy Bolin||Whips and Roses II||Teaser outtakes|
|2008||compilation||Tommy Bolin||The Ultimate Redux||Greatest Hits & Outtakes|
|2011||1975-1976||Deep Purple||Phoenix Rising||CD: 1975/1976 tour live album; DVD: Documentary and Rises Over Japan|
|2014||1973-1976||Tommy Bolin||Captured Raw Jams, Vol. 1||Jam Sessions|
- Nick Talevski (2006). Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries p.42-43. Omnibus Press, 2006
- The Ultimate Tommy Bolin Documentary - Part Three https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4doxsG5EWE
- "Gettin' Tighter: The Story Of Deep Purple Mk. IV". youtube.com. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
- Deep Purple - Rock Family Trees - 1995
- Issue No. 230; January 13, 1977; pp 14.
- Tommy Bolin Archives – TOMMY BOLIN DEAD AT 25 OF OVERDOSE, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE, JANUARY 13, 1977 By Charles M. Young (submitted by David Polhemus)
- The great rock discography By Martin Charles Strong.
- Touched By Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- Gettin' Tighter: Deep Purple '68–'76. Retrieved January 1, 2013.
- Mister Bolin's Late Night Revival, 2010
- Tommy Bolin Tribute Album
- Denny and The Triumphs : http://www.tbolin.com/history/denny_and_triumphs.html
- Patch of Blue : http://www.tbolin.com/history/patch_of_blue.html
- Popoff, Martin (2008). Gettin' Tighter: Deep Purple '68–'76. Power Chord Press. ASIN 0-9811057-1-8.
- Prato, Greg (2008). Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story. Createspace. ISBN 0-5780031-7-1.
- Smets, Eric (2012). Tommy Bolin: Voodoo Child (French Edition). Camion Blanc. ASIN B-00CW9WP-7-8.
- Thompson, Dave (2004). Smoke on the Water: The Deep Purple Story. ECW Press. ISBN 1-5502261-8-5.