This page is for fans/musicians/friends of Tommy Bolin – Favourite songs/era and just some really interesting and honest insights. We will add to the page as and when we get any feedback & thoughts... THIS PAGE FOR FOR ANYONE & EVERYONE!
So, feel free to send your views, experiences... ANYTHING you feel relevant to Tommy Bolin. Can include videos of you playing Tommy's music, artwork...
GLENN HUGHES, GETTIN' TIGHTER | NEW ZEALAND 19 JULY 2008
Simon Koretz - Guitar, Nathan Koretz - Drums, Kara Gordon - Guitar, Anders Olinder - Keyboards
On July 19, 2008 Glenn Hughes performed a blistering set of Deep Purple MKIII & IV classics at the G-TARanaki International Guitar Festival in New Plymouth, New Zealand. The festival was organised by former rock journalist, the late Garry Sharpe-Young who was working as events project manager for Venture Taranaki.
Glenn was travelling to New Zealand with his touring keyboardist of the time, Anders Olinder and was looking to assemble Kiwi musicians to complete the line-up. To my absolute surprise and delight, myself (guitar) and my brother Nathan (drums) were recommended to Garry as potential players to join Glenn on his one-off show. As Deep Purple had been my favourite band for 20+ years prior, this was a dream opportunity. A short time later, Garry saw a young guitarist named Kara Gordon competing in a guitar competition at the Rock To Wellington festival, and was so impressed by his playing, that he was included as an additional guitarist to join Glenn’s band.
With the line-up complete, rehearsal was set for the day prior to the show. On arrival to rehearsal, Glenn seemed a little apprehensive, and rightfully so. He didn’t really know too much about the local musicians who had been assigned the job of delivering the goods on the timeless material that he’d been a part of during the golden era of rock.
Now we all know how incredible Glenn is to this very day, but as the saying goes, you’re only as strong as your weakest link. We were determined to deliver a performance that was loaded with energy and genuine in sound and feel to the original material. From the moment we fired into the set it was apparent that this was going to kick ass! I could see the relief on Glenn’s face and there were soon smiles all round.
Nerves were high on performance night, and as it happened there was a storm raging outside. As the thunder roared and the lightning cracked, the band launched into ‘Stormbringer’ as the opening number. ‘Mistreated’ followed, along with other classics such as ‘Gettin’ Tighter’, ‘You Keep On Moving’ and ‘Burn’. The band were firing on all cylinders and Glenn delivered a truly incredible and memorable performance.
I first learned of Tommy in 1978 when I was about 16, because I was good friends with a cousin of his. My friend’s older brothers knew Tommy personally back in Sioux City, but my friend was younger and was learning about Tommy the same time I was.
Then mutual friends introduced me to John and Pudge, and later on I would see John at every Bolin fest. I collected vinyl in the 80s, including the rare black Moxy album. I was in a record store in Denver, and the owner set down a box of albums he had just purchased at a garage sale and the Moxy album still had a five dollar price tag on it. He said, “Oh man, I wish you hadn’t seen that! I was planning on selling that for at least 100 bucks. I at least have to charge you $10.” I have never whipped out $10 faster! After a Bolin fest in 1995, I posted a review of it on a Deep Purple website (it’s still there!). That caught the attention of The Jim Wilson, who tracked me down and introduced me to other fans. Around the same time I introduced myself to Dar (“Trix”), who had the only Tommy Bolin website on the Internet. With her blessing and cooperation, I started the ‘Tommy Bolin Fan Page’, with the tag line “Always the Latest News”! People asked me how can there be ‘latest news’ for a dead musician? I said, “You have no idea!”. So on that site I tried to post lyrics, tablature, pictures, album covers, interviews, and a bulletin board.
When the Tommy Bolin Archives started, I made sure to have links to that bulletin board and to their major pages. I’m especially proud of interviews with Bobby Berge, Jeremy Steig, Earl Johnson and Mark Stein. I was also proud to routinely feature the art of Ian Laws, and releases by JRZ System. My website was fairly popular for a while, but eventually I didn’t have the time to keep updating it as much as I’d have liked. I never made it commercial.
Now all the action seems to be on Facebook, and (almost) all of those sites and Bolin websites are run by good hearted people. Good luck with this awesome website... “Hear ‘Em HowL”!
Scott & Dar doing their best impersonations :)
On August 3rd, 1974, my buddy Don Rice stopped by the house, and asked me if I wanted to go to a concert with him. I had never been to a concert before, and told him he’d have to get it past my mom, which he did with great precision. So then, as we were heading up to Indianapolis (Indiana) to the Convention Center, I asked him who was playing, and he told me Blue Oyster Cult and the James Gang.
When we got inside, it turned out to be a festival seating show, which meant there were no floor chairs, and you could wander where you wanted to, or sit in the bleachers. It looked like a war zone, with kids lying in their own puke, pieces of (plugged) watermelon were everywhere, and dope openly being smoked while the (lit up) Marion County gendames just stood and watched. We sat cross legged on the floor as people would just pass down joints that we all shared. I mean, the thought of that today...
As it was, KISS was the opening act, and I had never heard of them before. I never would have guessed back then they would end up being one of the most successful acts in history. They looked like Kabooki the way they moved on those 16” platforms, and I thought at first they were from Japan. LOL They were all right, a real fun band. Next was Mick Jagger’s brother Chris, who to my ears, had a totally undistiguished set that bored me to tears. I might add, the acoustics of this venue didn’t help anyone. It was a large, square, metal and concrete building, that produced a lot of white noise. Next up were the James Gang. Now, I knew that Walsh was no longer with them, but besides the ‘hits’, ‘Must Be Love’ got a lot of airplay locally, so I had a few reference points to draw me in. They played ‘Walk Away’, ‘Funk #49’, and I THINK ‘The Bomber’ (?)
I wandered around the floor, and the sound engineers were on a platform mid floor. Standing on the back of it, I could see a reel to reel running the whole time under the mixing console, so I know the Gang was taped. I’m not sure about the other acts. ‘Must Be Love’ went down well, but by this time, I was sitting in the bleachers, and the sound was mud. As I sat there and watched the band, the guitar player would run over to the bass player's side and sing background vocals, then strut back to his side of the stage, and play with this thing he was plugged into sitting by the drum riser. I had no idea what an echoplex was back then, nor did I note the collection of slides and things he had on the table it sat on. Finally, he went into a solo bit, which was amusing because the sound took a few seconds to get to where we sitting, so his hands would move and we got the sound a bit after the fact. I thought it was the drugs for a minute. God only knows what were were laced with LOL. As the solo got more intense, I headed down to the stage and cut right up to the front, in front of Tommy. They were into ‘Standing in the Rain’, and during the middle bit before the solo, Tommy had unplugged his guitar lead, and he’s up front shaking his hips and swinging said guitar lead. Next, he pulls the echoplex stand to the front of the stage, works the crowd a bit, then plugs in, and he was off. Unlike the Don Kirschner footage, Tommy played a much longer solo, even bringing it down in the middle, before bringing the song to a close. He hit similar chord changes like the end of ‘Stormbringer’, and everytime he did one, he would rear back a little further. Then down to his knees, then totally flat on his back ,where he finished the tune. I’m so close I could nearly touch him lying there.
Needless to say, my 15 year old self had a serious case of platonic, non sexual man love for this guy, whoever he was. They came back for an encore, and then they were off. I talked about this guy from time to time to people, but here was no internet, not much music press in the midwest US, etc. I had no idea who he was. Fast forward, the big news the next year was Blackmore left Purple. I was at the local newsstand and opened an issue of ‘Circus Raves’, there was a picture of the new Deep Purple. And there was that guy from the James Gang! His name was Tommy Bolin. I got ‘Teaser’ and ‘Come Taste the Band’ for Birthday/Christmas presents (they fall one day apart), and played them both into oblivion. My mom helped me buy my first bass, and my goal (I’m 17) was the be Tommy’s bass player. That was late summer of 1976. I jammed to both albums for hours. Coming home for lunch from High School December 4th, mom picked me up, as there was tons of snow, and told me that one of Deep Purple died. And I thought, who? Gillan? Ritchie? David? Of course, it was Tommy.
“Tommy Bolin.” Tommy Bolin, the music mag said, was the man who was hired to replace the already iconic Joe Walsh in James Gang. “A 22 year-old Iowa KID?” I remember rolling my eyes, and writing off The James Gang at that very moment. “Wow, these guys must be desperate, they are DONE,” I said to myself. And then, I heard it. The strains of ‘Standing In The Rain,’ over my radio. My ears perked, hairs on my arm stood up. “WHOA! Who IS this guy, this KID?!”
Through ‘Bang’ and ‘Miami’ I was riveted to the sounds he was creating. Then I heard of an impending solo album, and I was delighted, and bought it the very day it arrived at my local record store… and I was flattened. “What the hell is all THIS, this JAZZ, this samba stuff, this BALLAD, mixed in with ‘Teaser’ and ‘Wild Dogs’?” Me, being a fledgling musician and primarily a rock dog myself, I felt I’d been let down by the kid. But then I listened twice. And three times, and FOUR. And suddenly, I GOT it, this guy could do it all, and he SCHOOLED me when I didn’t want to be or need to be, so I thought. He diversified me and my musical tastes. From that day forward, any poor soul who ever got into my car to party with me was immediately subjected to cassettes of this Tommy Bolin.
The James Gang gave a 22 year the keys to their future. And his songs and talent carried them. Then along came Deep Purple, one of the big three juggernaut rock bands on the planet at the time, and THEY TOO quickly gave this now 24 year old kid the keys to this massive legendary vehicle! ‘Teaser’ will forever be like The Bible to me, the musical statement committed to the ages, for all to marvel at, and pass on.
“One Favorite Song?” Impossible.
“Favorite Era?” Yes. The TOMMY era. ALL of it was his era, albeit a ghastly brief one!
My Tommy “Bucket List” ... was achieved last year, after 46 years, to finally go to Sioux City and sit at his grave, and sit in reverence I did. Alone, for 40 minutes, just me, the wind rustling the grass and me just playing his music, and most every song that he did that ever moved me profoundly.
Mark is responsible for ‘Tommy Bolin's Legacy’ Facebook site.
“Tommy Bolin's Legacy was formed to bail out another established group that became the victim of internet hackery and scammers. As a private group, our focused goal is to not mirror the others, and just pass around the same pix day-after-day, or share the exact same posts in a never-ending circle. We're after more ORIGINAL content, people's own Tommy pix, thoughts, and memories. We want open discussion, be it about Tommy's music, his gear, his spirit, or his effect on their lives. ‘His LEGACY.’ We have been attracting the REAL Tommy fans/associates, and have many many of Tommy's inner circle here, each contributing uniquely!”
When did I first discover Tommy Bolin? I’m the middle of 3 boys and my elder brother started buying up British Hard Rock records in the early 1970’s. Cream, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep. He had his own room and I used to hear all the music “second hand”. When he bought his first car he was rarely home, (he discovered girls too lol) so he said I could use his record player as long as I didn’t play any of his Heep records. This is when my real love of Deep Purple began and I started saving my pocket money for when the next Deep Purple album came out. It was pretty well known at school that I was a Purple Fan, and in 1975 I bought ‘Come Taste The Band’, my 1st ever album (I still have it to this day). From the moment I first put it on the turntable and the Echoplex intro to ‘Comin’ Home’ kicks in I was hooked, and my love of Tommy Bolin had begun. There was a lot of criticism of Tommy from hardcore Blackmore fans, but I always like to stand up for the ‘little guy’ – so Tommy become my hero, in a way. Plus he looked like a Rock Star and had a cool name to go with it.
To my eternal regret, when Purple toured Australia in 1975 I didn’t have enough for a ticket & my Dad didn’t want me going to a Rock Concert on a school night, so I never got to see him live. I still remember the day one of my school friends rushed up to me between classes on 4th December 1976 to tell me Tommy had died – I felt hollow. But it lit a fire in me to follow and experience all things Tommy for the rest of my life and I do to this day nearly 50 years later. What is my favourite Tommy Song ?Probably ‘Wild Dogs’ from ‘Teaser’ but as we all know Tommy was so diverse and has songs for every mood. If I’m sad I’ll listen to ‘Gypsy Soul’, ‘Hello Again’, ‘Mystery’, ‘Got No Time for Trouble’, ‘Evening Rain’ etc. If I’m stressed and need to ‘release‘ – ‘Live @ Long Beach’, ‘Comin’ Home’, Teaser’, ‘Shake The Devil’, ‘Gettin’ Tighter’, ‘Post Toastee’, ‘Time To Move On’ etc. What is my Favourite Tommy Bolin era?Very hard, if not impossible to say. Every part of Tommy’s musical evolution is special in it’s own way and that’s what made him so special. You couldn’t ‘buttonhole’ him into any particular music genre, he was so talented and so diverse and made his own rules.
I think from ‘Teaser’ onwards he perhaps started to realise that he was being noticed and his confidence rose and this showed in his playing. Conversely, as exciting as the Purple era was for him, the combination of the money, fame and abuse from hardcore Blackmore fans had an effect on his confidence, and his substance abuse escalated – just my opinion. I think if not for that fateful night in Miami he would have become a star in the mould of Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, Stevie Ray… we can only speculate.
What would be on my Tommy Bolin Bucket list? Luckily one has already been ticked off. In 2012 I travelled from Australia (via UK) to Sioux City and met Johnnie, who was the most wonderful host. We had hooked up on Facebook but I couldn’t get in contact with him of late (probably on the road with Black Oak). So I organised the trip myself and was basically going to do my own ‘pilgrimage’ to Tommy over the 2 days I was there. I remember arriving at the Sioux City Hotel & Conference Centre after flying from Heathrow to O’Hare, then to Sioux Falls and then driving to Sioux City. I was sitting in reception and the guy behind the desk said “What the heck is a guy from Australia doing in Sioux City?” I told him I was a huge Tommy Bolin fan and was here to pay my respects and hopefully catch up with Johnnie, but was having difficulties tracking him down. So this guy says to my amazement “I went to School with Johnnie, I’ll give him a call”. Within seconds I’m talking to Johnnie, he arranges to meet me the following day and he takes me to the Sioux City Museum Display (again lucky I was there at that time), Central High, Sioux City Music Bowl, Stone National Park, Tommy, Richard Snr, Barbara & Pudge’s Graves, The Funeral Home, The Church where Tommy’s Service was held. He gave me a Limited Edition Print, CD’s, T-Shirts & pictures of us snapped by Beth Anderson (another gem) made it a trip I will never forget. Johnnie is one of the most wonderful, selfless and generous people I have ever met.
Charles Cal Lennon
One of my first experience’s with Tommy playing guitar was when I would go over to the Bolin’s house to hang out with Johnnie and Pudge and Tommy would be practicing with the Patch of Blue in their basement. I definitely remember Tommy had a blue Kustom amp with the tuck and roll. This was probably in ‘65 or ‘66”. I was already starting to play the drums and so was Johnnie.
Everyone at that time were really starting to notice how great he was. Just about a year or so later I remember Tommy was already playing in bars at the age of about 15 years old. He played around town quit a bit up until he moved to Denver and then Boulder where started his own band with Jeff Cook, American Standard. Shortly after he hooked up with Zephyr.
Personally for me the band Energy was a real turning point with Tommy’s creativity and real professionalism. I was a junior in high school and I remember going to see him with Stanley Sheldon, Bobby Berge, Jeff Cook and being totally blown away. I remember talking to Tommy briefly about how things were going and so on and all I remember him saying was “Many starving days”. He was way before his time and the coolest, hippest musician I’ve ever known!
I love his early recordings and how he would always take it just a little bit further. A lot of musicians have gimmicks, and Tommy’s was the ‘Echcoplex’. He mastered that and I Dug it every time he would use it. You have to remember this was like 1969 through to 71 and there a lot of physchedelics, and he drew large crowds with his playing and mastering the ‘Echoplex’.
I have many great songs as favorites from Tommy but his solos with the James Gang song ‘Standing in the Rain’ has always been a favorite.
I was living LA when Johnnie started playing with Tommy, and I met Johnnie in Denver at Mile High stadium Labor Day weekend in ‘76 and was back stage hanging out in Tommy’s trailer back stage. You’ve probably seen the picture of Tommy and Johnnie sitting together on the grass (above pic). I was standing close to them while the photographer was taking pictures. That was about the time when Tommy really was hitting the big time. He was living in Linda Blair’s house in Beverly Hills. I remember hanging out with Tommy, Karen, Johnnie and Pudge. Swimming in her pool and having some of the best times that I can remember. I hung around with Johnnie and Tommy for about a month at either S.I.R. Studios or the Rainbow Bar and Grill before they set off on tour for his last time.
I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the sad news. Just remember ‘Someday we’ll bring our Love home’.
It wasn’t more then a few years after Tommy Bolin died that I was introduced to his music. ‘Teaser’ and ‘Private Eyes’ were a staple on my turntable. So diverse, so groovy, so seamless and comfortable he was with different genres. Many open mic nights and crazy all night jam sessions ensued. It was a great time for all back then.
Over the years, his music admittingly drifted from the forefront of my musical senses to the back. It wasn’t until the beginning of the pandemic that I would reconnect with those feelies that Tommy gave me back in the day. I am one of those weird Bolinites that back then, loved Tommy for his own music and didn’t even know his work with other Iconic bands and musicians.
How exciting!!! It was like discovering new music from a new artist and also knowing those were also bands I loved too and never knew the correlation. I was amazed at the fan base that had grown since then. It was incredible. I had found my tribe!! At the beginning of the pandemic I also began to get creative again and found my medium in Resin.
By 2021 I was ready to travel. I did not know a single soul other then online through discovering Tommy again in a whole new light. But I had a love for Tommy and a bunch of Resin hearts to share! I flew out to my first Bolinfest and found the most amazing group of people, and although they all knew eachother, they welcomed me as their own. My hearts were renamed “Gratitude Hearts”. I have been making fan art for while now.
I am also co admin of a fan page. Recently I made some holographic Resin stars with pictures of Tommy. Imbedded in the mold are the holographs. It was an honor to be asked to share my art on this new page! (Author's note: Beth's Resins can be seen on the ‘BOLIN ART’ page.)
This is my true story of my personal discovery of ‘one of’ the most unique guitarists to grace this earth back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Sadly, Tommy passed at the age of 25 on Dec 4th 1976 of an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol after the first night he was to go on a world tour as The Tommy Bolin Band, opening for Jeff Beck in Miami. On Dec 3rd 2019, Tommy was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame. I wrote this for a movie idea sfter this show. I hope you enjoy!