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The story of a doomed genius (we’ve heard before)

Classic Rock magazine has a feature on the brief life of Tommy Bolin. Albeit most of us know the story, it is well researched and well written, with plenty of quotes from the contemporaries.

Having relocated to California, Bolin finally received what he had really wanted all along – the offer of a solo recording deal. But it didn’t stop there. Bolin received a phone call out of the blue, asking if he’d be interested in trying out for the job of guitarist with Deep Purple, which had just been vacated by Ritchie Blackmore.

Ex-Purple bassist Glenn Hughes recalls that Purple drummer Ian Paice “was a big Billy Cobham fan. I think he came up with [Tommy’s name]. He’d heard Spectrum, came over my house and played it for me, and Coverdale also heard it. We were blown away. I’ve always been interested in newer, cutting-edge artists, and I was also always into ‘the look’ as well – and Tommy looked bizarre.”

Bolin agreed to a tryout, which Hughes remembers fondly: “The first day, we were rehearsing at Pirate Sound. We only auditioned two people, Clem Clempson and Tommy. Clem didn’t get the gig, but not because of his ability as a guitar player. It was because to fill Ritchie Blackmore’s boots you have to be a character. When Tommy walked in and I saw him, I shouted across the room: ‘Whatever happens, you’re coming home with me!’ We were just peas in the pod together.”

Read more in louder.com.

Thanks to Gary Poronovich for the info.

2 Comments to “The story of a doomed genius (we’ve heard before)”:

  1. 1

    Has this article seen print? I do buy most issues of Classic Rock but I have not bought the latest issue with Jimmy Page on the cover.

  2. 2
    GAVIN MOFFAT says:

    Worth mentioning that a sample from the track above, (Stratus, at 3.04 minutes) became part of the soundscape which characterised the Bristol sound, in 90’s England.
    It was used on Safe from harm by Massive Attack (shortened to Massive, because of the Gulf War)

    Safe from harm from Blue Lines

    It’s interesting that, Spectrum (by catching the bands attention) also reshaped the sound of Deep Purple, when Tommy later played and co wrote on Purple’s Come taste the band album, in 1976.

    I couldnt believe that the band folded after their UK tour. I saw them on the second last gig, where they went down a storm, despite the Pat Travers band being unfairly booed off, in the support slot. Perhaps Purple thought … we better be good tonight lads.

    I remember Tommy had a large effects unit beside him, resting on an old kitchen chair. (Responsible for all those swirling effects at the beginning of Comin’ Home, on the album.) Shame they didn’t get to make a follow up but like Hendrix, I suppose Tommy played the way he did because of every aspect of his personality, including the risk taking with drugs.

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