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People Zone | Tommy Bolin

Share some Tommy vibe with like-minded people around the world. You don't have to be famous, your thoughts and comments are always most welcome, good, bad or indifferent! Contact us

I saw Zephyr my first concert, didn't know Tommy was in the group. I first heard his name when he joined the James Gang.

Its hard to name a favorite track, there are so many great ones. I think Dreamer, Wild Dogs, Lotus, Got No Time For Trouble, Alexis, Sleepwalker, the entire Spectrum album, Post Toastee, Gypsy Soul, Sweet Burgundy, etc.

I consider Tommy Bolin one of the greatest of all time, (1.Lonnie Johnson, 2.Blind Arthur Blake, 3.Charlie Christian, 4.Tommy Bolin)

Lonnie invented improvised lead guitar and was the first guitar hero. Arthur Blake is the king of fingerpickers. Charlie is the benchmark for Jazz. Tommy for his work in Jazz-Fusion. These are the innovators, who were the guys everyone else tried to copy or duplicate in their respective genres. I listen to all these people...

Gilbert Lane


I became aware of Tommy late, like in 2009. I know it's crazy.. the story goes... I was writing on an online forum about the local Boston music scene, and every 4 months contributors would make mixed cds, and do a swap - about 20 of us. So you'd send out 20 of your mixes, and get 20 different mixes in return. One of those contained a Tommy track (Cucumber Jam) and I was blown away. I wrote to the guy who put that mixed cd together to inquire about Tommy. The guy said Tommy was his favorite guitarist. Which had me wondering, how is it I've never heard of someone's favorite guitarist? I started doing my research, and quickly became a Bolinite. Holding him even above Jimi

Favorite track?... so hard, but Sweet Burgundy is so beautiful I have to choose that one. Ahead of his time.

Chris Chin


Chris Chin with Tommy's hometown friend Mr. John Bartle. (Sioux City 2014)

Perfect Imperfection
David Streeten

Bought ‘Private Eyes’ in 1978 or 79, and my friend learned he is a cousin of Tommy's. I met John and Pudge after that. I started collecting and would find more and more to collect. The Internet revolutionized collecting - and connecting with other Bolinites. Favorite tracks: Post Toastee, Marching Powder, Owed to G, Standing in the Rain, Taurian Matador, Golden Rainbows.

Scott MacIntosh


I got into Tommy by seeing him with the James Gang my first concert in July of 1974 at the Convention Center in Indianapolis. I had no idea who he was,although I knew Walsh had left the band, and Must Be Love got a ton of airplay locally,as well as Stratus. That was back when bands would be over in a local market, and draw well at the gate even if they weren't household names across the country. A any rate, I didn't know what his name was, but his performance blew me away. This was festival seating, and by the last tune, I was close enough spit on him as he laid on his back on stage finishing the tune. I raved about him at school,but no one knew him. The next year he joined Purple, and when I opened Circus Raves magazine, there he was! I got CTTB and Teaser for the Christmas/birthday(Xmas Eve) holiday(s), and I was hooked.2) Hard to pick a favorite,but Our Creator Has a Master Plan is hard to beat,from Talogies, or however you spell it.Would probably be easier to list the tunes I don't like, and not too many of those. I'll think of perhaps more to add,and try and find a pic. ... PS.You know,I recall the old days of tape trading, which I kinda miss, but it is so cool to be able to connect with people from all over the world with the web, chat with not only so many like minded folks, but also to be able to communicate with some of the artists themselves,like David Givens a few weeks ago. June 12th I got to meet Glenn Hughes as well as attend a seminar. There are many things wrong in the world these days,but we shouldn't ignore some of the better things that have happened as well.

Chris Parsons


One of my first experience’s with Tommy playing guitar was when I would go over to the Bolins 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 abit 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 gimics, and Tommys 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 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 Tommys trailer back stage. You’ve probably seen the picture of Tommy and Johnnie sitting together on the grass, 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 Blairs 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 “Some day we’ll bring our Love home”.


Charles Cal Lennon


A friend of mine had Teaser & I loved it! I researched his bio & listened to all his musical endeavors- hard to explain but I feel connected to him & realize how magnetic he was - all the greats wanted to collaborate with him; and they know raw talent! He could play anything with anyone! He was popular but always had that stigma of being a replacement in a couple of bands where he didn't get the respect he deserved! Zephyr & his solo work really showed his versatility. He was on the cusp of superstardom at the time of his tragic death... His music still holds up today & new breed of James Gang/Deep Purple appreciate his contribution on a higher level because they don't have the allegiance to the members he replaced. I fell in love with him through his music & now feel my soul mate is in heaven! He was way before his time! I wish we could have experienced his next phase. He could shred with the best of them & many of the younger guitar virtuosos cite Tommy as an influence. Thanks to Johnny & die hard fans - his music has been kept alive; and by listening to all his different styles, his essence comes through. XO


Lori Lundin

I’ve loved Tommy for as long as I can remember. I’ve also been a fan of BOA, which is where I linked with Johnnie. Favorite track: Dreamer (if I have to pick one) Tommy was a legend, gone too soon. The love and devotion of his brother to keep his memory and his music alive is something I truly respect. There were so many phases Tommy grew through, to ultimately being the best possible guitarist he was. It always brings back great memories to see the photos, listen to the music and feel the spirit of Tommy Bolin. He lives on through them all forever!

Maureen Dauphinee


A progressive guitarist I knew back in 1973, who was about 5 yrs older than I, turned me onto TOMMY BOLIN! I love the Intro to James Gang Bang’s Standing In The Rain! The rest as they say, is History!

Debbie Stevens


Narada Michael Walden (July, 2015)

Tommy was the hi-light and the glow of good spirit! he loved the music loud and pronounced! Had fun laughing and would always say “F’@*%’ em if they cant take a joke”... We burned up all the stages before us! My fave night was the Roxy where Billy Cobham and George Duke came and sat in the balcony looking down on us from the side – it was intense! Billy said to me ... “You were knocking the paint off of them drums!” Then he showed me how soft and smooth his hands were and his match stick finger light grip – awesome. Of course he and Tommy from the Spectrum, album were tight and funky together – so much love in the air! Tommy’s beautiful partner, Karen, was always present and an inspiration for Tommy. Our band was; Reggie McBride on bass, Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) on organ vocals, Norma Jean Bell on sax vocals, Tommy and myself. Great times had by all...

... until we got to the Bottom Line club in NYC and Tommy had too much to handle ... after this night it was the end for me.

We remained close best possible. I always felt for Tommy cause he was tender... Romantic like myself...RIP


Gosh, it has been such a long time ago since I talked to Tommy and we were drunk most of the time that it might be hard to remember conversations! One silly thing that comes to mind was backstage at the electric ballroom and I had just watched Tommy play and I asked him “why don’t you do more lead breaks in your songs” and he looked at me and said “why should I play one string when I can play six!”. Kind of stupid me criticizing how Tommy should play and I don’t even play guitar! Just a drunken stupid moment.

Lynn Everett

I first heard of Tommy through Deep Purple, at first I thought he was a girl, since he had such a sweet and pretty face, hehehe.

...I was really young at the time of his death, eventually lost track if what was going on until recently.

My favorite song has been Busting Out for Rosey


Rosie Rigal


When I was about 15 years old I came across some of my Uncle's LPs. There was in there one Deep Purple live (LCIJ) without Blackmore and I noticed the words: “dedicated to the memory of Tommy Bolin.” It is where it all started! My favourite track: Ride the Wind /JG era + Post Toastee. I’ve got many live TBB tapes from great people all over the world + press clipping that was so nice at that time!

Kelly VanHelsing


Mariko Yamaguchi

When did you first hear of T.B.?

When I was 14 years old. A looong time ago :) First, I was a fan of Deep Purple Mark IV. That gave me a chance to get to know about Tommy Bolin! I fell in love with Tommy who was singing Wild Dogs on The Last Concert In Japan album.It was sooooooo fantastic!! But sadly, when I first heard him, he had already passed from this world... But from that point, I knew I wanted to know everything I could about Tommy.

Japan has always had a particularly strong Tommy fan base, can you suggest any reason why?

First, Tommy came to Japan. Second, He loved Japan. Third, the Album (Private eyes) cover was done in a very Japanese style. We Japanese fans were very impressed and still are captivated by this album cover and this also includes me. And, he looked half Asian to us...I also think that Tommy looked half Asian and a number of my Tommy fan friends agree. We Japanese liked his smooth black hair. It looked just like our hair. But, the most important reason is he was a virtuoso. He had a brilliant guitar technique and was also able to compose his own songs. He was a great songwriter and a singer. That's why he was so loved and is still so admired by Japanese fans.

What's your favorite Tommy period?

I can't chose one period. I love his James Gang period. I love his two solo albums and I love when he was with Deep Purple. I also love when he played with Cobham and with Mouzon. His style of playing jazz was so special. Of course, I like the Tommy Bolin Archives series. Each period of his music is fascinating to me. When I look at his musical life, I could never pick one because they are all fantastic!!

What's are your favorite Tommy songs/ tracks?

I can't chose one! I especially love Sweet Burgundy, Lotus and Wild Dogs. Since 2000, I also been in love with Evening Rain, Gypsy Moon and The Meaning of Love. I can't hear Hello Again and The Meaning of Love without crying... They are so sad and beautiful.

Any negative aspects that you want to mention about anything Tommy related, possibly problems among other collectors - anything at all? (MARIKO, don't answer this if you don't want to)

I don't answer this question....Sorry about that.

You traveled to the 2012 Bolin Fest. anything you want to mention?

It was so splendid!! We met Johnnie Bolin, musicians who played with Tommy and friends who are Tommy fans. We had a great time. I was soooo glad to see them! I will never forget the wonderful time as long as I live.

We went to Tommy Bolin Exhibition, too. I was so impressed by the great staff. There wre a lot of MUST see items there. You can't miss Tommy's red suits that were made by his girlfriend. They are beautiful... It was really worth seeing...If I had more time, I would have stayed there all day long :) Visiting Tommy's grave was a long term dream of mine. I was so moved, I prayed for him fervently. I'd like to go to Sioux City again and again in the future.

What's on the top of your Bolin wish list?

At the top of my wish list is for the video of Tommy singing Wild Dogs at Budokan to finally be found so we can all enjoy it! I've been dreaming about that for a long time.


My first drum instructor when I was 14 (this would be around 1979) was a big fusion guy. His name was Bob Hill. He was a huge influence on me and a fantastic drummer who stopped teaching to move onto his Berklee acceptance and degree. Bob leant my Billy Cobham’s “Spectrum”, which opened all kinds of doors for me. This was my first intro to Tommy. I didn’t even know who it was I was listening to, but in my mind, it was crazy on top of Billy’s drumming. Probably the best playing I had heard (and still might be, listen to the playing on that).

Bob took me and 2 other students to see Billy at Massey Hall in Toronto around that time...that was special.

Years later (about 2001), I was going through my buddy’s vinyl (junkie like me) and I pulled out “The Ulimate” (cassette version still sealed)...he goes “Check That Out”...”It’s Your’s” is Bolin history.

My favorite era of Tommy would have to be the Zephyr, Energy, Cobham, Mouzon, years, when the drugs hadn’t hit him so hard. Man, he was just the BEST. “Heartlight” by Energy always rings a bell with me from the power and sheer rawness of his playing. “Going Home” from Purple’s Come Taste The Band is Tommy’s tour de force as far as solo’s and one of the best...EVER.

Wally Z Zielonka



John Herdt & Wally Z

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MY Tommy Bolin story is I was listening to radio station Z-Rock on December 4th 1986 (10th ann of TB’s death) and the DJ Wild Bill Scott did a 10 minute commentary on TB and played ‘Teaser’.... it just went on from there!

Tom Tobin


One of the first ‘cool’ records I ever bought was ‘The James Gang Rides Again’,and then my first big concert was The James Gang in December of ‘72, Dominic Troiano was the guitarist. That all led to James Gang ‘Bang’, my first exposure to Tommy. I thought “Miami’ was great and “Come Taste the Band” blew me away, as did the solo records. In fall of 1976 I found myself in Denver for no logical reason, and saw a couple of concerts including Tommy Bolin with Blue Oyster Cult at Mc Nichols Arena on November 9th,1976. I remember thinking, ’Tommy is the best guitarist I’ve ever seen’. Three weeks later I listened to the radio tell me Tommy had passed away. I was shocked and felt sad, The Kid had so much more to do. After getting a radio show about ten years ago,Tommy Bolin was a person I chose to highlight on air. After doing a 2-Hour Tommy Bolin Special with interviews by Johnnie Bolin, Bobby Berge, Stan Sheldon, and Tommy Stephenson and others, I also spearheaded two successful Tommy Bolin Tribute Concerts in Kansas City. It feels really great to do a small part in the wave of support that the Tommy Bolin Community has done for all of these years. The Kid is still alive and well in our hearts.

Norm Comstock


Hello out there in tv land!

Well, my first connection with Tommy Bolin came near the end of my high school years. 1976-77. I was just not fortunate enough to have heard The Kid. I was playing like crazy with a few great guitar buddies. We were all devout Hendrix disciples. All I can recall is his two solo albums being there. I was mesmerized. I'm not a music critic so to me they were & are fantastic. From playing to recording, production/mastering. I loved his way, like all of us. I never knew he was from Iowa. Wouldn't have believed it. Talk about cool? I really like his singing as well. Everything he sang. Playing. I noticed quickly that a lot of things he did in his playing, I was in an early stage of. So, I dug into it hard. The staccato picking style, triplets, and the need to be percussive. Tommy Bolin influenced me in more ways than I can write. I still listen to, and play his music most every day!

Very Sincerely,    Joe Iemma.


Joe playing ‘Homeward Strut’ Click Here