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Famous Like Me > Composer > B > Tommy Bolin

Profile of Tommy Bolin on Famous Like Me

Name: Tommy Bolin  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 1st August 1951
Place of Birth: Sioux City, Iowa, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Tommy Bolin (August 1, 1951-December 4, 1976) was an American Born guitarist with Zephyr (from 1969 to 1971. and Deep Purple (from 1975 to 1976) and The James Gang in 1973 through 1974.

Tommy Bolin was born in Sioux City, Iowa. He had played in bands around Sioux City as a youth before moving to Denver in his late teens. He had played in a band called American Standard 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 guitar, David Givens on bass, and his sister Candice on vocals. They were a solid band from a musical standpoint, although Candice's vocals on the first album were (politely) an acquired taste. Their self-titled first album was released in 1969. 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, had a new drummer, Bobby Berge, who would pop up on liner notes from time to time on future projects by Tommy.

After this record, Tommy decided to move on to more progressive projects. In 1972, Tommy at the age of 20 formed the fusion jazz-rock-blues band Energy. While the band never put out an album during Bolin's lifetime, several posthumous releases have shown the band's power. He also played on Billy Cobham's Spectrum album, which included Tommy on Guitar, Billy on drums, Leland Sklar on bass and Jan Hammer on keyboards and synthesizers. An impressive line up and a more impressive album.

1973 found him as Joe Walsh's replacement in the James Gang. He had two records with this band: Bang! in 1973 and Miami in 1974.

After the Miami tour, Tommy wanted out of the James Gang. He went on to do session work for numerous bands, like Canadian group Moxy and jazz musicians -- Tommy is featured, for example, in Alphonse Mouzon's album Mind Transplant.

Tommy was signed by Nemperor records to record a solo album. Tommy's main idea was to bring in a vast array of session players he had known through his experience. Through the encouragement of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Tommy decided to do his own vocals on this album as well. Session players on this record included David Sanborn, Jan Hammer, Stanley Sheldon, Phil Collins and Glenn Hughes to name a few. During the recording of this album, he had been contacted to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple.

1975 saw the release of Bolin's first solo record, Teaser, and Deep Purple's Come Taste the Band. The tour that followed allowed Tommy to showcase one song per night from Teaser. During this period, it had become apparent that Tommy had a dreadful heroin problem. A bad fix before a show in Japan left his left arm partially paralyzed for a short spell. Erratic shows became the norm for this lineup and their singer, David Coverdale, walked off the stage after a show in Liverpool, and Deep Purple was no more.

Within weeks Bolin was back on the road touring with a solo band, and he began planning a second solo record. The band had a rotating cast of players which included Norma Jean Bell (formerly of Frank Zappa's band) on saxophone and eventually Tommy's older brother Johnny Bolin on drums. A show with top brass from Nemperor that saw Tommy (while highly intoxicated) falling off the stage, marked his being dropped from that label.

This proved to be a bit of a blessing in disguise when CBS signed him shortly afterwards. In 1976 he began to record Private Eyes, his second solo record. This album was to be a double album, but financial woes cut down on this project and a single album was released. The album is a decent effort, considering his condition when he made it.

Tommy's tour for Private Eyes proved to be his last. The cost of keeping a band on the road and heavy drug addiction forced him into being a supporting act. In his last concert dates Tommy opened for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. His last tour was marred with problems and unreliable performances, but his last show, on December 3, 1976, in which he opened for Jeff Beck, closed with barnburning rendition of "Post Toastee". He posed for a photo with Jeff Beck after the show. Soon afterwards he had been found passed out. Management, who didn't want another negative story out about the tour, had him taken to his room and had his girlfriend look after him. The morming of December 4th came about and Tommy had taken a turn for the worse. Tommy's girlfriend feared for his life and called an ambulance. Before the ambulance arrived, Tommy Bolin was pronounced dead. He was 25 years old.

in 1999 Glenn Hughes ( Trapeze Deep Purple ) did a 4-5 city Texas tribute tour , with Tommy's brother on drums Black Oak Arkansas playing Tommy's songs.


Solo Discography


  • Teaser (1975)
  • Private Eyes (1976)
  • Naked (2002)


  • Live at Ebbets Field 1974 (1995)
  • Live at Ebbets Field 1976 (1997)


  • The Ultimate: The Best of Tommy Bolin (1989)

External Links

  • The Official Tommy Bolin Archives - maintained by Bolin's family and a source of references to further sites
  • Guitar-poll

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Tommy Bolin