Tommy Bolin

Thomas Richard " Tommy" Bolin ( born August 1, 1951 in Sioux City, Iowa, † December 4, 1976 in Miami, Florida) was an American rock guitarist. His father came from Sweden, his mother was of Syrian origin.


After Tommy Bolin had visited with his father and his brother Johnny an Elvis concert, it was clear to him that he wanted to become a musician. From his brother Johnny inspired, his first instrument was the drums. It was followed by the piano, which he also composed later. At 14, he first played in a band called Patch Of Blue, with 15 years, he founded his first band, Denny & The Triumphs. His companions were school friends, whom he had met before he was expelled from school because he refused to let his hair cut. He acquired the guitar mainly on autodidactic way, since he did not harmonize with at least two teachers.

He played two years with the " Triumph " cover versions, then he oriented himself otherwise. Tommy Bolin moved to Denver and joined for short periods of the band American Standard and guitarist Lonnie Mack at. The end of 1968, he was not even 18 years old, he founded the band Ethereal Zephyr, which can then only called Zephyr later. She released her first LP in 1970 Zephyr. A year later, their second album, Going Back To Colorado.

In 1972, he got out and started the band Energy, but could not find a record label for the release of an album.

The next, and at the same time decisive for his career station in Bolin's career was the band of Billy Cobham. On the Spectrum LP he played in 1973 eight jazz - rock tracks the guitar. Almost simultaneously, also published in 1973 the LP Bang the James Gang. There, he joined as a replacement for Dominic Troiano. In 1974, the second album of the James Gang with Tommy Bolin was published: Miami. However, this should already be the end of the collaboration with the James Gang. ( He has recorded with no band more than two studio albums. )

After getting off the James Gang, he decided to pursue his career as a solo artist. In the meantime, he contributed to the band 's Rainbow Canyon and Dr. John, and was involved in November 1974 during the recordings for another jazz - rock classics for Alphonse Mouzon - Mind Transplant. At the beginning of 1975, he starred as Studiogitarist for the Canadian band Moxy one their first album. The work on his solo album teaser, which was released in November 1975, took almost a year. In the same year Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple rose. David Coverdale suggested Bolin as his successor and invited him to audition.

Teaser was released in November 1975 in the United States and showed Tommy Bolin first time on a complete LP as lead singer. In the same month came out Deep Purple album Come Taste the Band, for which he contributed eight songs. Both records sold poorly and did not achieve the sales figures, the achieved Ritchie Blackmore with his debut recording Ritchie Blackmore 's Rainbow together by far. On 15 March 1976, after 52 appearances as lead guitarist and a studio LP, the era Deep Purple for Bolin was finished. In 1977, the live LP Last Concert In Japan appeared, recorded on 15 December 1975 at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo. In May 1995, the long time appeared only as a bootleg available concert of Deep Purple of February 27, 1976 in Long Beach Arena with two tracks of 26 January 1976 in Springfield, Title: On The Wings Of A Russian Foxbat.

In September 1976 Tommy Bolin's last record was released in his lifetime: Private Eyes. On the album, including the following musicians interact with: Narada Michael Walden, Mark Stone, Norma Jean Bell. Only a few weeks later, on December 4, 1976 Tommy Bolin died. The night before, played the " Tommy Bolin Band" as support for Jeff Beck in Miami. After the show Tommy Bolin suffered at the hotel a dizzy spell and went to bed. The next day his girlfriend found him in a severely weakened state and called a doctor. Before he arrived, Tommy Bolin died of a heroin overdose in combination with alcohol.

Tommy Bolin was just 25 years old; He has been involved in the music business around eight years. His legacy is now managed by his brother Johnny, who the label The Tommy Bolin Archives founded in 1996.


Since his time at Zephyr Bolin played mostly Stratocaster guitars, while he had until then been experimenting with different guitar models (eg Zephyr still with a Gibson Les Paul and a Gibson SG). Bolin had three Stratocaster, including an unmodified copy from 1963, he played most frequently, and one with a Telecaster neck. For the Slide game he set a Ibanez explorer, he also used a Yamaha acoustic guitar He moved very thin strings of the company Ernie Ball, and used an extra thick Herco gold plectrum, on which he, however, a day chewing, so that there was an approximately average thickness.

Bolin Hiwatt used since about his time at Energy DR103 100 - watt amplifier with Sound City 4X12 " boxes, were installed in the Eminence speakers. The amplifier he put the bass to maximum and cut off the highs completely. Behind the amplifier he had connected in a Sam Ash Fuzztone, in which he sounded the heights maximum reinforced. use this setting to his own statement by not more like a Fuzztone, but gave the guitar merely " more bite and punch force." he himself describes his guitar sound as " between Stratocaster and Les Paul lying ".

Another important part of his sound was the Maestro Echoplex tape delay, which he also used as his time at Zephyr, after he had seen the American guitarist Rick Derringer. Bolin put this unit on a stand or a chair next to him and served it while playing with his hand and a foot switch. He is described as a "master " in its use, it was for him " as a second instrument ," from which he " bring out all sorts of rhythms " could.




James Gang

Billy Cobham

Alphonse Mouzon

Rainbow Canyon


Deep Purple

Tommy Bolin

Tommy Bolin & Friends

Tommy Bolin concert recordings

Tribute To Tommy Bolin

  • Various Artists Tommy Bolin Tribute Concert ( 1996)

It continuously appear still more shots Bolin.

Movies about Tommy Bolin (selection)

  • " Tommy Bolin - A Tribute " (1996)
  • " Tommy Bolin - ' The Ultimate ' Documentary " (2000)

( So far, only on VHS via the " Tommy Bolin Archives" available; currently (2007) out of print).