Born in Sioux City, Iowa, on August 1, 1951, Bolin picked up on rock and roll music as soon as he was old enough to switch on a TV set. 'I was five or six at the time and I used to watch this show on TV called Caravan Of Stars. I saw Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins. After seeing them perform I knew what I wanted to do.'

He started on drums when he was 13 and played them for two years before trying guitar and keyboards - opting for the former as it felt right. At high school Bolin played with Benny and The Triumphs but formal education ceased when he was threatened with a hair-cut. He moved to Denver in 1967, played briefly with a group called American Standard, then relocated to Boulder where he helped form Zephyr with David and Candice Givens. He appeared on two of their three albums before opting out to try something new. He formed a band called Energy with Stanley Sheldon on bass, Bobby Berge on drums, Jeremy Steig on flute and Stanley Stephenson on drums; though they attracted club audiences, Energy were unable to secure a record outlet and the project folded in 1972.

Around the same time Bolin guested with blues bands fronted by Albert King and John Lee Hooker and in 1973 played some sessions, among them those that resulted in Billy Cobham's influential 'Spectrum' album and an LP by Alphonse Mouzon called 'Mind Transplant'. It didn't pay the rent though and when Bolin was invited to join the James Gang he did so. He played on two of their albums Bang and Miami. He left to try working on a solo album and eventually had some fully finished demos which secured him a deal with Nemporer Records in spring 1975. A few weeks later Deep Purple were on the phone.

He took their offer, and their new album 'Come Taste The Band' and Tommy's first solo LP 'Teaser' were issued around the same time. With the new found status however came drug problems, which would dog him off and on. Deep Purple's world tour covered Japan, America and Britain, ending in March 1976, but poor reviews and bad feeling caused them to split. Bolin set off to finish his second solo album 'Private Eyes' and then began touring with The Tommy Bolin Band, initially headlining smaller gigs and then later in the year supporting other bands at bigger halls. In December he was supporting Jeff Beck in Florida, but died of a drugs overdose in his hotel room after a show on December 4th 1976.


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