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Tommy Bolin in and out

Tommy Bolin - In and Out of Deep Purple cover art

Hot on the heels of The Cozy Powell Story, there is another book coming from the same author: Tommy Bolin – In and Out of Deep Purple.

It started off so well. As Jon Lord enthused in the October 1975 issue of Melody Maker: ‘Tommy can’t be so bad for us with so many good ideas. All I can say is when you hear the album (Come Taste The Band) you’ll change your mind. Whether you like the music or not, you’ll have to realise that Deep Purple now have an excitement in their playing that they haven’t had in a long time…’

Despite calls of ‘we want Blackmore’ when Deep Purple Mark four played live, there was so much more to American guitarist Tommy Bolin than being Ritchie Blackmore’s replacement. As a result, the purpose of this long-overdue biography is to readdress the existing narrative of Tommy Bolin’s legacy. As well as discussing objectively Tommy’s time with Deep Purple, Laura Shenton offers an insight into his musical achievements in his own right outside of the band, which include two cult rock albums in Teaser and Private Eyes. He also had a stint in The James Gang and made numerous guest appearances, where his versatile and virtuosic skills as a guitarist were utilised, before his untimely death in 1976 at the shockingly young age of 25

What: Tommy Bolin – In and Out of Deep Purple by Laura Shenton
When: March 26 May 28, 2020
Where: Sonicbond Publishing, UK
ISBN: 978-1789520705
Price: £12.99
Format: Paperback, 128 pages, 16 colour pages

The book can be preordered from all good bookstores, for example, this one.

Thanks to Yvonne for the info.

19 Comments to “Tommy Bolin in and out”:

  1. 1
    Keith Livingstone says:

    What a player. I have all of his recordings from the James Gang forward through his solo records and of course CTTB.

  2. 2
    Stephen James Smith says:

    I wonder if this book will reference his disgusting behavior towards the Deep Purple fans at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, England.
    I was there. Unbelievable.

  3. 3
    stoffer says:

    Come Taste The Band was a very good LP….but Teaser and Private Eyes OMG!! they were soooooooo much better!!!

  4. 4
    Barry Edwards says:

    Stephen James Smith What happened?

  5. 5
    Jerry Pineda says:

    Keith Livingstone Did you ever hear Billy Cobhams Spectrum album. He plays in that along with Jan Hammer

  6. 6
    Anders Wiklund says:


  7. 7
    Keith Livingstone says:

    Jerry Pineda Imust look that up Jerry. Many thanks

  8. 8
    Stephen James Smith says:

    Barry Edwards I was there. The band gave him a solo spot. His playing was awful, and he began abusing the fans, eventually walking off the stage to a chorus of boos. This was the last tour of that lineup. A mess.

  9. 9
    Jim Sheridan says:

    I just finished re-reading “Touched by Magic,” a Bolin bio by Greg Prato. It is haunting.

    Rather than a traditional narrative, it is a collection of statements made by Bolin and by those who knew him, taken from articles and interviews at the time as well as from more recent interviews and reflections. These are arranged chronologically. There was a recent Allmans bio, “One Way Out” by Alan Paul, that took a similar approach.

    I will certainly grab this new Bolin bio. Hear ’em howl!

  10. 10
    Albertz says:

    I saw the penultimate Mark IV gig at Glasgow Apollo. It was immediately obvious all was not as it should be with Jon playing the lead on the opener, “Burn” & then taking the first solo.

    The sound was deafening & awful.

    Glenn introduced Tommy’s solo spot with “introducing the best new guitar player in the world” And it was awful; no structure, no direction, none of the virtuosity we now know Tommy was capable of. But back then we were blissfully unaware of his (& Glenn’s) demons.

    Not just the worst DP gig I’ve ever seen, but quite possibly the worst by any band.

    I remember coming out the stalls at the end of the show & 2 guys with Bolin shirts were coming down stairs from the balcony. Glasgow being Glasgow, they were chased out the theatre by a some very angry & disappointed Glaswegians.

    A sad tale.

  11. 11
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Bolin was a feel player – und if the audience was against him, he would just fold. He had none of that Blackmore “against the grain” energy – if Blackmore was booed he would work twice as hard “to show these bastards”. Not Tommy.

    But even a Tommy Bolin in excellent form would have had a hard time following Blackers. Their styles were just miles apart. Blackmore’s neo-classical choice of notes is as “Yuropean” as a vampire movie (as Rolling Stone once quipped about Burn, the album, in a review), Bolin’s style was utterly American in comparison, all blues pentatonic and jazzy, lots of rhythmic repetitions (which I like, but they are untypical of Blackmore).

    He was also utterly unaware of DP’s millstone-around-neck legacy (he said at the time that he only knew Hush and SOTW from the radio when he joined them in 1975), consequently he had no idea that he would be expected to match Blackmore’s solos at least to some extent. Bolin failed at that, believing that he could get way playing bis own lines in a song like Burn – not what DP fans wanted to hear. He could pull off a decent Joe Walsh with the James Gang, he couldn’t even approximate Blackmore’s style (to be fair: Blackmore couldn’t “do Bolin” either, Morse probably could, but he’s another Yank).

    I believe Purple hired Bolin because he was exciting to them – his look, his musical openess and friendliness as a person, his exuberant, playful solos, for being so totally different to Blackmore, the grouch & tyrant, that first session where the notes just flew from Tommy’s fretboard … And on a good day, Tommy was all that, but he needed a nurturing environment to be at his best.

    All that said, I love Bolin’s work in and out of Purple. Anybody that digs CTTB, will also love his debut with the James Gang, namely Bang (Gang Bang, geddit? Those were the non-PC days …), it shares the same undiluted excitement and unbridled enthusiasm (Miami, his second album with James Gang already sounds dejected in comparison).

    Anybody ever notice how the heavier tracks on Private Eyes already bore a distinct “Purple stamp” (more organ than anything on Teaser for instance)? They wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a DP follow up to CTTB IMHO, had the line-up survived [and Tommy rehearsed that friggin’ Burn solo!!! ; – ) ].

    And whenever I see the Last Concert vid, I marvel at Glenn’s and Tommy’s immediate rapport on stage – those two guys were in love and infatuated with one another as much as you can be without being a gay couple! It’s cute to watch.

  12. 12
    Barry Edwards says:

    Stephen James Smith I saw this line up on the 27th of November ‘75. It was a great concert. No incidents at all. Sad that the band imploded only few months later. 😩

  13. 13
    Jim Sheridan says:

    It is a shame that the Purple experience is what a lot of people know Bolin from, as he had been capable of so much more. A number of those shows are a blight on his record and on Purple’s.

    That being said, I saw Purple in Hartford CT in the early 90s when Joe Lynn Turner was singing. Blackmore walked offstage during “Highway Star.” Fans left the show early too. A highly combustible band.

  14. 14
    Cool Hat says:

    That’s fascinating Jim.

    Comparing JLT era Deep Purple with JLT era Rainbow, I get the impression that Blackmore and JLT were more musically cohesive in the latter.

    Just a wild guess on my part based purely on how the albums sound.

  15. 15
    Rock Voorne says:

    @ Jim. Does not seem so bad.


  16. 16
    Highway Tsar says:

    I saw the DP concert at Wembley on March 13th 1976. It was the second of 2 shows and Tommy was superb. When the reviews were published the Journos had been to the night before and slated it. I could not believe it was the same show/Band. I now realise it was not. Tommy was on form on the night I saw them and it was terrific. I have a poorly recorded bootleg of the night and it confirms what I remembered. I cannot comment on the other shows (and I did make the mistake of buying last concert in Japen.) When I saw DP with TB it was good. John lord confirmed it in the Chris Charlesworth Biography.

    Come Taste the Band has aged remarkably well IMHO!

  17. 17
    Jeff says:

    I saw Bolin with Purple in 1976 Providence Rhode Island. (Nazareth opened) My general take away was disappointment. I missed Blackmore’s playing. Blackmore was by far the better presence on stage. I remember Glenn Hughes screaming more than he needed too as well. I am a big Hughes fan but it honestly it seemed like he wasn’t taking it as seriously as he should have. It seemed like they were “Going through the motions” I love Bolin’s fusion work but there were no brilliant moments at the show I saw. One of my big wish list items would be for a “Delexe Edition/ Remaster of “Private Eyes” I love this album. I hear they cannot find the tapes. I just love the mood/vibe of this album.

  18. 18
    Jeff says:

    Btw…I saw a pretty cool clip of “homeward Strut” from the Capitol theater on You Tube. Does anyone know if there is more of that footage available ?

  19. 19
    CP says:

    10.”I saw the penultimate Mark IV gig at Glasgow Apollo. It was immediately obvious all was not as it should be with Jon playing the lead on the opener, “Burn” & then taking the first solo.”
    There’s a tape of the Glasgow show, and as tradition for that lineup, on Burn, Jon took the first solo and Tommy the second instead of the other way around. As Jon was going into his solo, Tommy, for some odd reason, decided to do his as well. It’s amusing on the poor recording to note the sound engineer trying to figure who to bring up in the mix, before giving it up and just bring Jon up . When it came time for Tommy’s slot, Bolin just played rhythm. It was pretty chunky, and if he’d built on it, it could have been an interesting solo. Jon finally comes in and adds some fills toward the end. The rest of the show went off as per normal. Tommy played the same basic structured solo spot every night, which wasn’t too impressive. It was an “interesting” show to say the least.

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