Oops. I didn’t mean to omit Bolin from guitarists’ list
One guitarist I inadvertently left off of my list of top 10 guitar players seen live is the late great Tommy Bolin.
No excuses. I just forgot.
If I hadn’t, he would have been on the list ahead of a few who made it.
A lot of you know who Bolin was, especially if you lived in Colorado during the 1970s.
Bolin was the lead guitarist for Colorado’s own Zephyr with Candy and David Givens. The band was based out of Boulder and played at Mesa College in 1970. I still have a poster from that show somewhere.
Bolin played on two of Zephyr’s LPs, a self-titled debut and “Goin’ Back to Colorado.”
After he left Zephyr, Bolin became the lead guitarist for the James Gang on its “Bang” and “Miami” LPs.
Bolin joined Deep Purple for “Come Taste the Band,” played guitar for Alphonse Mouzon’s “Mind Transplant” and Billy Cobham’s “Spectrum,” then joined Moxy for a brief period before embarking on a solo career.
Bolin released two incredible solo albums, “Teaser” in 1975 and “Private Eyes” in 1976.
Bolin died of a drug overdose in Florida in December 1976 after opening a show for Jeff Beck. His so-called friends wouldn’t take Bolin to the hospital, instead thinking he would sleep it off.
I was sitting in my car at the traffic light at U.S. Highway 6&50 and 27 1/2 Road on my way to classes at Mesa College when I heard the news from Paul Harvey.
I stopped in at Smokestack Records later that day and both Mike Lindsey and Frank Elenz (the owners) were upset at Bolin’s death. They had recently named Bolin’s “Private Eyes” as the record of the year for 1976.
In a short length of time, Bolin created a large following with an exceptionally tasteful mix of jazz, rock, blues, reggae and heavy metal. It is still some of the most amazing guitar work I have ever heard.
Bolin’s music could be powerful and hard-hitting with songs such as “The Grind,” “Shake the Devil,” “Bustin’ out for Rosie” and “Post Toastee.”
His music also could be gentle and touching, such as can be heard in “Dreamer,” “Savannah Woman” and “Hello Again.”
There were a lot of woodwind instruments on Bolin’s records and that lent to the jazzy feel on “Marching Powder,” “Sweet Burgundy,” “Gypsy Soul” and “Post Toastee” among others.
No matter what style he played, his guitar playing was always phenomenal.
To this day, Bolin’s music remains very popular and his music is still in demand.
In fact, in 2008, Friday Music released a three-CD set of Bolin’s music called “Redux” that featured 31 tracks, most previously unreleased.
On Tuesday, March 8, Samson Records released a different version of Bolin’s first solo album “Teaser.”
“Teaser Deluxe,” as it is called, is a deluxe edition of “Teaser” featuring 11 songs as opposed to nine on the original and clocking in at over 72 minutes as opposed to the 37 minutes on the original.
“Teaser Deluxe” features previously unissued alternate versions of the nine songs plus two versions of “Crazed Fandango.”
All of the songs, except “Homeward Strut” are longer than the originals with some, such as “Wild Dogs,” clocking in at 13:50 and “Lotus” at 11:29.
I have listened to this CD several times, and I love it.
If you are a Bolin fan you will love it too, as it only adds to the legacy of a great musician who left this Earth way too soon.
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