Rockbrat Remembers – Tommy Bolin

It is fast approaching August 1, Tommy Bolin’s birthday. If he were alive today he would be 59. Tommy Bolin died at the ridiculously young age of 25. He was very proflic though, and crammed far more into his young life than others who live to be a hundred. Not just prolific, but also a master of several different musical styles (hard rock, blues-rock, funk rock, jazz fusion) and instruments (guitar, vocals, bass, drums, piano). Bolin played with Zephyr (from 1969 to 1971), The James Gang (from 1973 through 1974), Deep Purple (from 1975 to 1976), and also released a couple of solo albums. Go listen to the material he recorded with Energy, a fusion jazz-rock-blues band, or the Billy Cobham’s Spectrum album he played on and you’ll see he was much more than just Blackmore’s replacements in Purple. My favourite Bolin material is the material he played on in the James Gang, with whom he recorded two albums, ‘Bang!’ in 1973 and ‘Miami’ in 1974. Before he replaced Blackmore in Purple, he toured with Carmine Appice, Moxy and The Good Rats. He released his first solo album ‘Teaser’ in 75. After Deep Purple disbanded in March, 1976, Bolin was back on the road with his solo band and in 1976 he released his second solo album ‘Private Eyes’. Bolin’s tour for Private Eyes was his last. In his last concert dates, he opened for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. His final show was opening for Jeff Beck on December 3, 1976. He died of a drug overdose on December 4, 1976, at Miami, Florida. There is a wealth of Bolin material to discover. My favourite tune from his solo material though is the beatiful ‘Dreamer’. A toast my friends, to the memory and music of the great Tommy Bolin.

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