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That time when Jeff Beck played bass for Tommy Bolin

The news of Jeff Beck’s passing prompted us to chase down the rabbit hole for the possible family tree connections. Cozy Powell, of course, got his proverbial feet wet in the Jeff Beck Group. And Tommy Bolin played his last concert opening for Beck. The Bolin/Beck connection actually goes quite a bit deeper. It was Tommy’s guitar work on Billy Cobham’s Stratus that inspired Beck to pursue fusion on his 1975’s Blow By Blow and 1976’s Wired albums. And they actually did jam together on at least one occasion.

Says description to the Youtube video below:

28 minute jam at Glen Holly Studio 1976.

Tommy Bolin- Guitar / Jeff Beck- Bass / Bobby Berge- Drums.
Bobby Berge relates: “Jeff Beck was in town playing a gig at a venue called the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, CA. Since Tommy knew Jeff was in town doing this gig, he got in touch and invited him over to Philip Polimeni’s Glen Holly Studio. We first jammed for a half hour or so with Tommy on bass and Jeff on guitar, then took a little break and started again with Tommy on guitar and Jeff on bass. We lost the first jam with Jeff on guitar though because Philip recorded over first jam somehow, he recorded the second jam over the first one.” Jeff Beck played the Starlight Bowl on June 12, 1976, so the BBB jam was recorded close to that date. This audio is a fresh restoration and mastering done in June 2008 by John Herdt, the source audio was Bobby Berge’s well-worn cassette.

The second part, with unknown saxophone and keyboard players:

Thanks to Gary Halverson for the heads up regarding the sad news.

26 Comments to “That time when Jeff Beck played bass for Tommy Bolin”:

  1. 1
    Rock Voorne says:

    Owed to J


  2. 2
    nupsi59 says:

    One of the greatest, champions-league, RIP Jeff Beck…

  3. 3
    MacGregor says:

    Vale Jeff Beck. A superb imaginative guitarist if ever there was one. So glad I witnessed him & his band in action in 2009. He has left a wonderful legacy indeed, bless him. RIP.

  4. 4
    Gregster says:

    RIP Jeff Beck…

    I have a number of JB albums, & was even given a recent DVD filmed at Ronnie Scott’s which was quite impressive. I’d love to say that I loved his music, but I don’t, & never could get into what it was exactly he was trying to do, or get across, whether instrumental music with Jahn Hammer, Phil Collins, or the occasional singer combo with Rod Stewart that rewarded us with radio hits.

    There’s no question of his ability, or musical prowess. He could give a guitar a unique personality, & make it talk his own way, like no-one else. You can usually tell straight away when JB is playing a Stratocaster. “Guitar Workshop” may well prove to be his most essential work, & no doubt he’ll be remembered as a master-of-the-Stratocaster along side with Jimi for a long time to come. *Even my 1989 Strat-Plus is loosely based on his original “signature” custom-shop guitar from Fender, so thanks for that, as it’s probably the best guitar my the arsenal.

    Thanks for the music !

    Peace !

  5. 5
    Peter says:

    I am not sure , but i remember when Blackmore left Deep Purple the search for a new guitarist was also the name Jeff Beck in the conversation but he rejected the offer . You would have to ask ROGER GLOVER . He knows for sure how the situation was.

  6. 6
    DeeperPurps says:

    Rock @1…..a very fitting musical tribute to “J”eff Beck, RIP.

  7. 7
    Deepest purple says:

    We have lost the one of a kind, one out of one period.

  8. 8
    Kasper from Denmark says:

    As far as I know, Jeff Beck was mentioned, but noone dared calling him, and Tommy Bolin was next on the list, so they chose him instead.

  9. 9
    Uwe Hornung says:

    A very remarkable passenger just took the train to Jordan.


    No one could make a guitar cry and sing like him.



    Coverdale considered him as a Blackmore replacement, but I’m not aware of him ever being asked and it wouldn’t have worked anyway, Beck’s idiosyncratic style required a sparser musical environment than Purple could ever offer and he wasn’t a songwriter – something DP was in dire need of at the time however if they wanted to continue.

    He even turned down the Stones after auditioning with them for a few days after the departure of Mick Taylor. Jagger would have dearly loved him in (Keith was doubtful). Not that paths would not cross again, in part at least, he played the iconic acoustic guitar solos on Jagger’s first solo hit (@ 02:22 + 04:08).


  10. 10
    Rock Voorne says:

    I did buy BLOW BY BLOW which I understand was his greatest work?

    But except for Cause we ve ended as lovers it wasnt for me and stopped for many years to bother exploring further.

    Stupid maybe, I always read he was versatile and ofcourse Blackers fierce recommendation always sounded in my memory.

    But tastes differ.
    I can appreciate jazzrock et all that sometimes but it never touched me like Gilmour, Blackmore, Santana, Schenker, Gallagher did.

    To me it seems that within the DP ranks they often looked up at people like Beck and choosing Bolin and later on Steve Morse, who at best sounded like a poor mans Beck to me…..that reflected in their choices.

    Simon is different I suppose. But what does it matter, they re all old……History has been written, time and years have passed bye.

    Btw, that Blackmore recommendation sounded paler after some time.

    Wasnt he the one dismissing When a blind man cries, the Rainbow Dio era?

    He is now succumbing without (Paicey said RB has a destructionclock built inside that knocks every 3 years???)etc?
    That wasnt even literally true before BN happened but it was funny somehow 🙂

  11. 11
    sidroman says:

    Saw Page in 95, Clapton, in 2001 and Beck in 2009. Overall I preferred Clapton of the 3, Beck was great but it was an instrumetal show. I love Truth and BeckOla, and his work with Beck, Bogert band Appice. I wish he did more work with Rod Stewart. RIP Jeff Beck.

  12. 12
    NWO says:

    I am glad a few years ago I got up at a bar to chat with him and his manager after a show. Sweetheart of a guy. Signed my sister in laws album and even took a pic with her!
    RIP Jeff Beck….

  13. 13
    George Martin says:

    I remember that as well. I believe it was David Coverdale that asked Jeff if he would join Deep Purple when Ritchie left and he said no because it really wasn’t his thing.

  14. 14
    MacGregor says:

    Jeff Beck was on a journey searching for the ‘lost chord’ as so many are & that is one of the good things about him. He did what he wanted to do, covers other people’s songs, a few instrumentals & arrangements & maybe even a song here & there with a guest vocalist & some of his own compositions. However joining a hard rock band with vocalists screaming & wailing etc, no way. Too many bad memories for him there regarding his time with The Yardbirds. Beck like many others is an acquired taste, you have to be in the mood for his guitar histrionics as such. That is the wonder of instrumental music.
    I had a Beck day yesterday & after listening to the Blow by Blow album plus 30 minutes of the live dvd with Jennifer Batten also on guitar, I had to stop for while. Maybe today I might continue on with that concert from 1999. It is a very good gig that one, but that was Jeff Beck, he set the bar high indeed & all the musicians who played with him as well.
    Regarding Tommy Bolin joining Purple I guess he would have seen that as an opportunity
    of an established big name, no financial costs involved & all the hedonism that goes with it. A chance to lift his profile globally. He was his own man also in many ways, too much though it seems. Some are fortunate & live for a while longer to tell the tale, others not so lucky. What a waste. Cheers.

  15. 15
    BreisHeim says:

    Don’t forget 1974.
    Eddie Harris put out an LP, “In The UK”, with Jeff Beck and Ian Paice on two songs together.
    Find it, buy it, listen to it.
    Back when music was wonderful!

  16. 16
    Uwe Hornung says:

    It’s funny, I hear that a lot now that people who of course respect Jeff Beck as a guitarist have issues warming to his music (and it took me a while too). I guess his approach to where and with whom he played (and let’s get this out: his recent collaboration with Jack Sparrow wasn’t the sunken wreck of the Black Pearl many people claimed it to be, it was ok’ish to pleasant) was so scattershot it confused people. If you’re a heavy or hard rock afficionado, then only early Jeff Beck Group (with Rod and Ron) and Beck, Bogert & Appice are going to do it for you with perhaps a little of the Yardbirds thrown in (and I think it was the experience with BBA that stymied any future desire with Beck to be part of yet another stadium act like DP or the Stones).

    Stylewise as a guitarist I don’t even think that Jeff Beck was versatile at all, he was rather perfectly idiosyncratic, anything he played he put his stamp on although he never really adapted his introspective, lyrical, often stutteringly percussive and vibrato-laden fingerpicking-influenced style much. In a way, he was a Miles Davis on guitar, similar to an abstract painter.

    Different subject: I didn’t even believe at the time that Tommy’s tenure (whose playing bore more similarities to Beck and vice versa than ever to Blackmore) with DP would be a long term thing. The deal his managers had him sign with the Purple management explicitly gave him freedom for his solo career and he finished the recordings for Teaser (the album) when he had already joined DP (hence Glenn Hughes guested uncredited on Dreamer – I initially thought that was a black woman singing those final lines!; the release of Teaser and Come Taste The Band at pretty much the same time also cannibalized initial sales of both) + recorded Private Eyes while still believing to be in DP (because no one had told him otherwise, he was expecting to record another album with DP immediately after doing some promo touring for Private Eyes).

    Ultimately, Tommy wanted to do a singer/songwriter/lead guitarist package like Peter Frampton or Eric Clapton and Purple would have been his Humble Pie/Cream as a ‘make me a household name’-stepping stone on the way there. Realistically, Mk IV wouldn’t have lasted longer than two or three studio albums even without the drug dependencies and a changing musical climate. Still, too bad we never got to hear that second and perhaps third Mk IV studio album. And an album with Jeff Beck and Tommy Bolin trading licks wouldn’t have gone amiss either. Jeff Beck outlived the six years younger Tommy for a respectable 46 years, there would have been enough time for lots of collaborations between the two.

  17. 17
    Andy says:

    It was crushing to hear of his passing, now I’m just grateful for the musical legacy he leaves behind for all of us to enjoy.

  18. 18
    MacGregor says:

    @ 15 -thanks for that information regarding Eddie Harris. I don’t ever recall reading about this album, especially with Yes & Deep Purple musicians featuring heavily on it. Alan White on drums, Chris Squire on 2 tracks & also original keyboardist Tone Kaye. Ian Paice playing on a few tracks & two tracks have Jeff Beck appearing with Albert Lee who appears on a few others. Steve Winwood & Rick Grech also. The things we learn each day. Avante-Garde jazz improvising etc. Well at least what I am listening to at this moment. Cheers.

  19. 19
    Albania says:

    RIP Jeff Back…a truly prolific guitarist and masterful on the strat. I will always cherish his incredible live show at the Capital Theater in Port Chester, NY. Power went out in the middle of a fas number. He went backstage and, when power was restored, stepped up to the microphone and, ever so humbly, said, “Sorry, mates, but shit happens.” He then nodded at the bass player and picked up at exactly where the music had stopped. It was like someone had pressed pause, and then pressed play again. Everyone was in awe. The show was superb.
    Tried to get tix for the same venue last Fall, but it was hard due to the high demand, I guess, because he was touring with a certain pirate whose trial at the time had until recently been in the news nonstop. Hard to believe he is gone.

  20. 20
    Gregster says:

    Yo, lots of informative posts to read through ! You learn a lot from these, so thanks everyone.

    A few more Mk-IV albums would have been sensational, but it seems that we were lucky that we got CTTB, & with how well it turned out. ( And “Longbeach 1976” from the DP (overseas ) Live Series probably equals CTTB ).

    It’s difficult to place JB in the DP line-up, & imagine what may have transpired…I’m glad we got Tommy in Mk-IV however.

    Peace !

  21. 21
    Gregster says:

    @16. Good post Uwe ! I would suggest that with regards to people warming to JB’s music, it was / is one of those things that’s of-the-moment, & time. So when stacked against the “competition” at the time of release, & heard frequently, the tunes no doubt express themselves in a more positive way, sit better among the peers, & help inform the going’s-on of the times in the music world.

    For myself however, it’s “yes, this is great stuff”, but his work never got a lot of air-play at my place, for no-known reason in particular. I actually grabbed “Flash”-( circa 1985 ) on CD around 10-years ago at a petrol-station-rack for a tenner, & I think I’ve only played it 3-times in those 10-years. And one of those 3-times was out of respect for his passing a few days ago, & a hoping to find something that I missed perhaps.

    In a way, you can hear the future sounds of the 1980’s appearing in his 1970’s work, but it never moved on from there either imo. I’m glad he found a hit on the radio with Rod Stewart.

    It would be a boring world if we all liked the same things ! I do have massive respect for JB’s abilities, have no doubt. Perhaps for myself, as a teenager growing up through the 1980’s there was PLENTY, even too many guitarists to listen to & enjoy, so Jeff had his place & respect, but at that time, I couldn’t believe how Bill Nelson & Be Bop Deluxe flew under everyone’s radar, & disappeared without a trace lol ! And people like Robin Trower & Johnny Winter were getting plenty of air-play at my place, so it was always hard to find room / time for more. DP, RUSH & Queen ( first 3 x albums ) were always fighting for first spin cranked after work lol !

    Peace !

  22. 22
    MacGregor says:

    @21 – I too purchased that Flash Jeff Beck album way back then, found it in a cheap bargain bin & wondered why. I hardly played it. Too ‘flash’ for my liking & I actually have looked for it these past few days & cannot find it. I am known to throw out or give away (if anyone I know will take it) music I find annoying. Beck said himself that album made him cringe years later & he couldn’t believe he ventured down that road. Hindsight eh. The last album I bought was Guitar Shop & I only play that sporadically. I prefer his 70’s material, but I am ‘old school’ so no surprises there. Hence the Robin Trower liking. I witnessed Johnny Winter in concert back in 1986, a good hard blues gig even if a tad repetitive & boring after an hour or so. I couldn’t believe Winter’s voice, so powerful & raw for a little thin albino type of guy. A wonderful blues player with a killer guitar tone & a great 3 piece band. The joy of Trower is the song quality & James Dewar, Jack Bruce & Davey Pattison on vocals. 70’s & 80’s material again. Rory Gallagher also. A shame I missed him in Oz back in the early 90’s, he left us a few years after that. What a loss. We were spoilt from those days, all unique players & performers. Big Rush aficionado up to the mid 90’s & Queen 2,3 & 4th & Innuendo albums for me. Cheers.

  23. 23
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ah, Gregster, you blazing apostle have finally revealed yourself as a Be-Bop Deluxer, I thought I was the only one, especially here in this netherworld of Blackmore zealots! Those remixed boxed sets that Esoteric Records have put out over the years are a treasure trove!!! BBD were effing brilliant.

    Around Machine Head’s 40th anniversary, more than 10 years ago, Bill Nelson was asked to review the album in Classic Rock magazine. Given his general disdain for all things “stadium rock”, he was an unlikely choice as a guest reviewer and you could have feared the worst, yet he did a very knowledgeable and positive review, pointing out how “clever” and “well-constructed” Machine Head as an album was. And how much ahead of the times Ritchie as a soloist.

  24. 24
    Gregster says:

    @23…Ah yes..Blazing apostle perhaps, but an Axe-victim, seeking a better Futurama, with a Sunburst-finish Stratocaster making Modern-music, out of all this Drastic-plastic world is very true ! But we are in living in the Air-age of course !…

    Trying to find any BBD in Oz with success until the 2010’s was like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack ! And then the dam broke, & it flooded with re-releases, BBC-sessions & Futurist Manifesto’s & then some…There’s an 8-CD boxed-set that’s more or less Bill Nelson post BBD called “The practice of everyday life” that’s quite good too…The man has been making around 4-CD’s every year since the 1980’s, so there’s quite a back-catalog there…Anyone interested in acquiring some Be Bop Deluxe will find the Warner Brothers Original Album 5-CD boxed-set a most excellent find. You will be rewarded with fine music, & the complete studio discography in mini, original LP-sleeves for the price of peanuts.

    @22…Robin Trower is a living legend…And you may find the “Seven Moons Tour” circa 2008 well worth looking at, featuring Jack Bruce & Gary Husband if you haven’t already. Avante-garde-blues that’s quite engaging, & well played, along with a few Cream tunes for good measure…( I still rock along better with West, Bruce & Lang however ).

    And you were so lucky to see Johnny Winter. He has a live album from 1976 called “Captured Live” that’s as good as it gets imo. There’s also a few gigs that were filmed through the 1970’s available on YouTube that are really impressive too, especially the European shows.

    So you can see how I was kept busy with my time, & why Jeff Beck had difficulty with air-time at my place LOL !

    Peace !

  25. 25
    Uwe Hornung says:

    Ah, you’re a Bony Moronie man then, Gregster!


    I had that album too. Johnny Winter was Blackmore’s favorite white (very much so!) Blues guitarist btw.

    Re Be-Bop Deluxe: The new Esoteric remixes (not just remasters) are a must. And I have the “rabbit box” “The Practice of Everyday Life” by Herr Nelson too of course.


  26. 26
    Gregster says:

    @25…Yes, I did receive the e-mail from Cherry / Esoteric Records when “Live in the Air Age” was released a little while ago, but sadly, I’m too late, & the 16-disc-set is all sold out, though the 3-disc set is still available…What put-me-off is the really poor exchange rate, where 1 x UK lb, = $ 00:56 AUD…This means the price is almost double, & then you have to add shipping expenses on top-of-that too. And when you’d like all of the albums released for a complete set, you’re looking at well over $1,000:00 AUD, & I can’t come to terms with that, as those dollars could also be my next Stratocaster or SG deposits…( Or the next few sets of Pirelli’s for my Hayabusa lol )…

    And with Black Sabbath doing the same thing with their back-catalog & similar prices, it becomes difficult to warrant. I came very-close to grabbing the “Sabotage” offering that included some live recordings, but I’ve decided to wait for the “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” offering & see how it compares. These are priced at around $180:00 AUD plus postage…And once you grab one, you have to get the rest lol !

    Though very tempting, I weighed everything-up & figured that the “record companies” have messed-up by leaving all these releases too long in the vault…I did however follow-up on Rhino’s Little Feat “Waiting for Colombus” deluxe boxed-set, where all the shows ( Rainbow theater, Hammersmith Odeon, & Lisner Auditorium ) are offered as their own double-disc sets, plus another updated remix over 2-discs of the original album…And this set cost over $180:00 delivered…And I also forked-out close to $100:00 for a friend State-side to grab & send me over an official release of the 1974 “Electrif Lycanthrope” bootleg on CD, of which only 3,000 were made. ( This disc cost all of $15:00 state-side )…Postage costs are disgraceful from anything State-side, unless of course you can find what you want on e-bay or Amazon, as these guys seem to be dictating the postage fees at their leisure.

    With Black sabbath, there’s a great 4-CD bootleg available titled “Masters of Reality” for $20:00 inc postage that scratched that itch for me, as there was a recording from the debut tour, Paranoid tour Masters tour & Sabotage tour… And then with all the BBD I have already, I found a free download of their awesome performance state-side as broadcast via WLIR-FM, that has not as yet been bootlegged, & that scratched that itch lol !…For the moment.

    Finding the time to listen to all the music I have already is difficult, but I will grab the 16-disc-set of “Live in the Air Age” if it becomes available once more, poor exchange rate or not. I love live recordings, that’s for sure !

    Peace !

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