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This Time Around
The Highway Star

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David Delaney
Phil Evans
Jim Collins
Gord Jantzen
Chris Parsons
Patrick Loiselle
Chris Henrici

Mike Eriksson

Mark 4
Japan tour report
Interview collage
Liverpool 1976

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Special features


onstage in Tokyo

All eyes on Bolin

For this special feature Gord Jantzen went digging through endless old press cuttings and album notes, and emerged with this collage of Mark 4-related quotes from Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Hughes, Ian Paice, Jon Lord, David Coverdale, Roger Glover, manager Rob Cooksey and Tommy Bolin himself.

Ritchie Blackmore
Tommy Bolin's guitar strings
"When I heard that Purple hired him I thought it was great. He was always so humble. I remember he would always invite me out to his house in Hollywood to see his guitar. One day I went to his place. I walked in and tried to find him, but no one was around. There was no furnishings - nothing. I stayed there for ten minutes before he finally appeared. He showed me his guitar, and the strings must have had a quarter-inch of grime on them, as though he hadn't changed them in four years. I asked him when was the last time he'd changed strings, and he said very seriously, "Gee, I don't know. Do you think I should change them?"
"I originally heard Bolin on Billy Cobham's "Spectrum" album, and thought, "Who is this guy?" Then I saw him on television and he looked incredible - like Elvis Presley. I knew he was gonna be big."
(Guitar World, February 1991, by Mordechai Kleidermacher)

Taking Blackmore's place in Purple
"I don't envy Tommy Bolin for trying to take my place in Purple. He was a uniquely talented player and it's unfortunate that he never had the chance to develop with the band the way that I did. His death was an incredible loss, not only for Deep Purple but for guitar fans as well."
(Guitar World, May 1999, by Chris Gill)

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onstage in Tokyo

Glenn Hughes
"It's About Time"
"It was early June that the hand of fate led me to Lee Sound Studios in Pelsall, Staffordshire - just ten miles away from my hometown of Cannock. Around the time of Tommy Bolins's audition of Purple. I had been fooling with a few song ideas at my house in L.A., but put them on hold when Mr. Bolin and myself began our working relationship. Tommy suggested that one of the songs, "It's About Time", should be recorded for the "Come Taste The Band" album. We rehearsed it, but at the 11th hour I decided I'd rather hold it for my solo album so I sat down and wrote "This Time Around" for Purple instead."
(Sleeve notes from "Play Me Out", by Simon Robinson)

Playing with Mark 4
"The Mark IV version of the band was incredibly powerful. Tommy Bolin 's playing was quite different from Ritchie Blackmore's and he made a huge difference in the sound of the band. I made a lot of money in Deep Purple and I still do. I made three albums with them: "Stormbringer", "Burn" and "Come Taste The Band". "Burn" sold 5 million copies and still sells a lot. But I probably should have stayed in Trapeze where I was much more comfortable. I only joined Deep Purple because the money was so incredible I didn't really dig playing with Deep Purple, with the exception of the period with Tommy Bolin. That was a special version of the band."
(Sleeve notes from "King Biscuit Flower Hour", US edition of "On The Wings of A Russian Foxbat", by Bruce Pilato/Simon Robinson)

Not playing on "Comin' Home"
"Tommy and I were abusing together and it began to get out of control. The band sent me in for treatment while we made "Come Taste The Band" and I never got to play on the first track, "Comin' Home", because I freaked out in Munich."
"They wouldn't let us out of the country (Jakarata) until we'd paid back all the money from the shows. I smelt a set-up. Afterwards, our lawyer flew in to sort it out, but he was met at the airport by a bunch of officials wielding machetes and guns. We had to forget it."
"In Glasgow I thought I was dying, I couldn't get my breath onstage," he recalls. "I refused to do the encore of "This Time Around' and Jon Lord had to literally drag me back on. At that infamous Liverpool show I was on my last legs - I couldn't even stand. I was making farmyard noises. The band was over and we all knew it. I didn't particularly want to be there anymore anyway, I wasn't even happy to be in my own skin."
(Classic Rock, Sept/Oct 1999, by Dave Ling)

Tommy Bolin's guitar playing
"Tommy was the most adventurous guitar player ever. Apart from being my closet friend ever - the world has lost a great inspirational player for all the youngsters learning the art of guitar playing. There's not a day goes by that I don't think of Tommy Bolin."
(Sleeve notes from "The Ultimate", Simon Robinson)

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Jon Lord
"He was just fucking marvelous. I just had to play with this guy!"
(Sleeve notes from "Days May Come And Days May Go", by Simon Robinson)

Tommy's understanding of Purple's music
"And poor old Tommy, God rest his soul, was out of his depth in this kind of music, he didn't understand what Purple audiences wanted and needed, and we ended up with an album that was absolutely nothing to do with Deep Purple."
(Sounds, Nov 3, 1984, by Sylvie Simmons)

Discovering Bolin
"David said, 'I want you to hear something,' and he played the "Spectrum" album. I was blown away and utterly entranced by this guitar player."
"I was blown away and utterly entranced by this guitar player. Tommy plugged in, we jammed , and boy was it good! This guy could really play. But it was a totally different style of playing from Ritchie. It was untutored. His technical ability came from within. But he was like the little girl with the curls: when he was good he was very, very good, but when he was bad he was horrid."
"We did this disastrous Far Eastern tour. I discovered that Tommy had a rather serious drug problem, and, probably as a result of that, something had happened to him. I'll never know what it was, but it caused him great difficulty in playing."
"Tommy seemed to be able to cope with all the problems he had when he was on home ground (in the States). On occasions he played absolutely sublimely."
"By the time we reached the U.K. he completely lost it. It was not entirely his fault. There was some opposition from the British fans to seeing their favorite British group with an American guitarist. He won them over on a couple of nights, but usually he ended up shouting at the fans. On the last concert of that particular run, in Liverpool, Ian Paice and I met backstage and decided to quit the band. About 10 minutes later, David Coverdale came into my dressing room and told me that he was leaving. I informed him that there was no band to leave. It was a rather ignominious end to what had been a wonderful few years."
"I was 3,000 miles away, sitting in a restaurant, when the news came on the radio that Tommy had died. I was devastated, although I must admit that I was not surprised. That was the path he had chosen. I had never seen anybody do to themselves what Tommy did to himself. I just wish he had someone around him who would have held his hand. Sometimes I feel guilty that we didn't do more. But I'm not sure what we could have done."
(Guitar World, May 1999, by Chris Gill)

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Ian Paice
Thinking about Tommy Bolin
"I don't think about Tommy every day, but every now and then I see the record, and... we've had some very funny times. Tommy was a wonderfull cooky, strange little guy, and he did very many strange things. And we knew it would be impossible for him to get to be 40-years old, we knew he'd do something stupid and finish it early, you know. And he did. But... I'll tell you, this is Tommy: we'd flown over from Los Angeles to München, to do some recording at the Musicland Studio. We only had 2 or 3 days to make some music. And you know, there's a 9-hour time difference, (we had) a jetlag, so we'd arranged with a very friendly doctor, who needed to give us 5 little tablets, which would make sure we'd sleep ok and then work the next day. We were in the studio, just listening to some demos to see what we were going to do. Tommy, of course, went straight down to the clubs. Gone. We didn't see him again. So at about 2 o'clock, we're just finishing up, and Tommy comes rolling into the studio. And he has two of the most beautiful, giant, big, blond deutsche ladies, one on each arm, holding him up, like this [gestures - laughter from the audience.] And he's obviously got a great night planned, you know, he's going to have a great deal of fun with these two ladies. But he sees these five tablets, five pills there, and he just goes "woooompf!" [grabs those imaginary pills in one big, fast scoop, then throws them into the mouth all at once.] And then he says, "what do these do?" [Big laughter from the audience.] And we said to him, "Tommy, you're just about to sleep for about three days now. No chance." [More laughter.] But 5 minutes later he's still talking to those beautiful ladies, saying "oh, no..." So, yes, Tommy was like that.
(Berlin 2001, concert review by Akiko Hada, The Highway Star)

Relying on Bolin
"We just knew after about ten minutes. In many ways I am the one who relied most on Ritchie, and Tommy and I just got on (musically) straight away.
(Sleeve notes from "Days May Come And Days May Go", by Simon Robinson)

"The Dealer", addicts and the end
"The Tommy Bolin album we did, "Come Taste The Band", had a track called "The Dealer." It was just so easy to play. The fills were good. They captured a lot more of what was going on. It didn't matter about good or bad; it was feeling and energy."
"We were determined to carry on and we brought Tommy Bolin in. As good a player as he was in the studio, he was hopeless on stage. When he got on a big stage, he just seemed to freeze up. Instead of playing a solo, he'd end up shouting at the audience and arguing with them. Plus there was his personal problems, which didn't help at all. That's when it became too much."
"It was a good band, but Tommy was a heroin addict, and nobody knew. It shouldn't have been called Deep Purple. When it became obvious what was going on between Tommy and Glenn, it became impossible to work with them. Then one night after a show at the Liverpool Empire, David, Jon and I looked at each other and said "That's it." That's when we stopped."
(Modern Drumer, Dec 1984, by Robyn Flans)

Friendly audience
"Bolin was a guitarist who needed a little time, a little indulgence from a crowd, in order to build himself up."
(Sleeve notes from "The Ultimate", Simon Robinson)

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onstage in Tokyo

David Coverdale
The first jam
"We all just stood there in amazement" "The other geezers were really tuned on. They were working to keep up with this guy. Then Tommy apologized because this wasn't his equipment and he really hadn't played for months."
(Sleeve notes from "Days May Come And Days May Go", by Simon Robinson)

Replacement guitarist
"If Tommy wants to blow it he can blow it. He got a bit uptight at Leicester. He was doing a solo piece and it could only take one guy or chick to shout "Blackmore" to throw it. For two years I was answering questions about Ian Gillan. It's something you have to live with and get over.The thing about Tommy is that he's been replacing people all the time. He replaced Joe Walsh in the James Gang and then Ricthie in Purple.I suppose he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. It's all a matter really of maturity and believing in yourself."
(Rolling Stone, Nov. 6, 1975, by Clayton Frohman)

Boring or breath taking
"Tommy is a gypsy nomad in guitar land. He can either show breath-taking genius or be very boring and mundane. Usually, he's breathtaking."
(Melody Maker, March 20, 1976, by Chris Welch)

Love - hate
"I had a love/hate relationship with Tommy. I hated him for what he did to himself and loved him when he was straight and when expressing himself through his playing. He was without a doubt one of the most creative spirits I've ever heard and had the pleasure of working with."
(Sleeve notes from "The Ultimate", Simon Robinson)

Jamming in clubs with Jon Lord & Tommy Bolin during the Australian tour
"I can't remember a lot about that time, those were very reckless days. I was a fully paid member of the C.R.A.F.T. Club-Can't Remember A Fucking Thing!"
(The Ann McLaren Interview @ www.davidcoverdale.com)

Reflection Deep Purple with Tommy Bolin.
"There was a lot of disappointment for me. I think that was probably my most overweight time, which is always an indication of me being unhappy. I love Tommy and I just saw him hurt himself so much. It was very strange for Tommy. He had an air of resentment about him. He was a beautiful boy when I first met him. He'd replaced Joe Walsh in the James Gang and he told me when he was playing with them, people were shouting "Where's Joe Walsh?", and of course to replace the legendary Ritchie Blackmore was an even bigger problem. He would hear all of the shouts for Ritchie and it was sad. Once Ritchie left we had a meeting in Munich, and it was discussed that we should change the name, The Deeps, Purple or Good Company, who knows. I think it would have been far more appropriate to have changed the name. We could still have played the music, or elements of the music, but I think it would have been much more of a service to the legacy of Deep Purple. That's one of the reasons I left. I had too much respect to drag the name down. I saw what Purple meant to people and I still hear it now when I'm in Europe. I'm always shocked that I'm still asked about Purple because it was such a long time ago. The respect and love still continues, even with the horrendous scraping of the barrel releases that I'm seeing currently."
(The Ann McLaren Interview @ www.davidcoverdale.com)

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Roger Glover
Thoughts on Mark 4
"When you do something in a band, it's only afterwards, when it's a failure, that you can come up with the reasons for that. But at the time you're doing it, you don't know what's going to work, and what isn't going to work. The Tommy Bolin versoin of the band - who knows? It might have been huge. And if it had been, how different would the stories have been then? It's all in the lap of the Gods."

First and only meeting with Bolin
"Yes, once, in the (then) DP office in London. He had come to the "Butterfly Ball" at the Albert Hall and said he enjoyed it immensely. Came across as a great man, interested and interesting."
(Roger Glover in email communication with Gord Jantzen, January 1999. Thanks to Roger Glover for the permission to use the information.)

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Rob Cooksey (Former Manager of Deep-Purple and Rainbow)
Bolin joining Deep Purple
"David Coverdale came up with the idea of getting Tommy into Deep Purple. He'd heard him on the Cobham album and with the James Gang. His name was the first that was brought up, but we didn't even know how to get in touch with him. We brought Clem Clempson from Humble Pie out to L.A. and tried him out for three or four nights, just jamming. He was working out really well but he just didn't have the magic. So we decided to call it a day and Clem went home and we were really despondent. We got Tommy's number off some guy in the Rainbow in L.A. and it turned out he was living three miles down the road from us in Malibu. He came down and it was instant magic. From the first couple of bars we could tell immediately he was the guy. He liked us, we liked him, and we just took it from there."
"At the moment Tommy's pursuing two entirely different careers, but one compliments the other. His coming into Deep Purple has certainly given him an 18-month to 2-year start on his solo career. He's ambitious and together and he's got youth on his side."
(Circus Raves, December 1975, by Dan Nooger, transcribed by Darkhop)

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sushi meal in Japan

Tommy Bolin
Bolin thought Blackmore recommended him to Purple
"It was weird, 'cos he said "I recommended you to the guys and I hear things are going great.'""
(Sleeve notes from "The Ultimate", Simon Robinson)

Solo and with Purple
"I have the best of both worlds. I can make money with Purple and be as artsy as I want on my own. To be honest, I'd never heard anything but "Smoke On The Water", and to avoid feeling like I'm filling anyone's shoes Purple gave me tapes but they're still wrapped up."
(Rolling Stone, February 26, 1976, by David Rensin)

"If someone yells "Where's Blackmore?" at one of our concerts," vowed Deep Purple's raven-dressed guitarist, Tommy Bolin, as he sprawled across the only couch in his suite overlooking Central Park South, "I'll just do what I did when people yelled "Where's Joe Walsh?" at me while I was with the James Gang. I'll have cards printed up with his address and throw them out to the audience."
(Circus Raves, December 1975, by Dan Nooger, transcribed by Darkhop)

Replacing Blackmore
"I'd rather work than not. I was very lucky to be able to play in all those extremes. It was difficult following a guy like Ritchie Blackmore. When someone is the focal point of a group like he was, it's very hard to replace them. After a while, it just got to be pointless."
(Guitar Player, March 1977, by Lowell Cauffiel)

"Well Ritchie, I mean I like Ritchie really, you know, he's, uh... He's come and listened to the band, you know, and stuff, and he's really, he really likes it a lot, you know, which makes me happy."
"The only time I saw him was the California Jam thing, where, there was like a, it was on, it was a TV thing, there was like a huge flamethrower thing or something like that, and somebody loaded it too much, and it about burnt Ritchie's britches off! And you could tell it on TV, you know, it was like, uh... but that's the only time I saw the band. "
(7HO radio, Melbourne, Nov 26/75)

The break-up
"It was mainly a management thing, where a couple of people in the group were saying it was the fault of a couple of other people in the group. It's a lot of bullshit. I guess what happened is that now Jon Lord and Ian Paice just did an album and David Coverdale is doing an album. It's weird. Now I'm not too close to any of them, except for Glenn Hughes."
(Circus, Oct. 76, by Scott Cohen)

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Thanks for gathering around the time table to read the current and past member of Deep Purple reflect on the life of Tommy Bolin. (Of course, also thank you to Stephen King for telling me in the cyberworld of suspended time that anything is possible if you just go through enough paper, which is exactly what I had to do here.)

Gord Jantzen


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