TOMMY BOLIN'S DREAMERS Comes to Boulder Theater, 3/30

Tommy Bolin was born to Barb and Rich Bolin in Sioux City, Iowa, August 3 1951. At age five (!) Rich, took him to see Elvis Presley LIVE and Tommy's path, as it turns out, was set. The very blue collar Bolin family did all they could for Tommy, including buying him his first guitar, the obligatory Sears Silver-tone. His first Sioux City teen band was The Miserlous, followed in 1964 at age 13, by Denny and The Triumphs, which morphed into Patch of Blue. In 1999, they were was inducted in the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. After leaving Patch of Blue, Tommy gigged with The Chateaux, based in Vermillion, South Dakota, where he met their drummer, Bobby Berge. It was at a gig with them there they he met John Tesar, who wrote lyrics for Tommy throughout his career. But Tommy wasn't "fitting in" at school. After being suspended from Central High School for his hair being too long, then cutting it short, and still being suspended, Barb and Rich supported 16 year old Tommy in leaving Sioux City. A one way bus ticket to Denver, Colorado was all he needed to start his new musical career.

The very day he arrived in Denver, walking a downtown street, Tommy heard a band practicing from through a basement window. Intrigued by what he heard, Tommy knocked insistently on the window until someone came and let him in, guitar in tow. Jeff Cook's American Standard band was the practicing group. Jeff offered the charismatic Tommy the unlikely chance to jam and upping the anti said "do you know Purple Haze"? The next day, the more than competent original guitar player was replaced by Tommy and a tight bond was forged with Cook who became one of two of Bolin's original lyricists, and a close friend for the rest of Tommy's life. Tommy took the Denver/Boulder area by storm, and quickly moved to Boulder after being invited to help form Zephyr. This band included Bolin on lead guitar, Candy Givens vocals, husband David Givens on bass, John Farris, keyboards and Robbie Chamberlin, drums, later replaced by Bobby Berge. Zephyr was a full on improvisational psychedelic/blues/jazz rock powerhouse, rivaling the San Francisco Bay area jam bands, and was managed by the only music industry force in Denver with national connections, Barry Fey. By the time the band started their second LP Going Back to Colorado, which was recorded at Jimi Hendrix's NYC Electric Lady-land studios by Hendrix's engineer Eddie Kramer, Tommy had begun to create quite the national buzz amongst peers particularly the top new generation of modern jazz musicians based in New York City. The likes of Jeremy Steig, Jan Hammer, Don Alias. Eddie Gomez and Billy Cobham were just a few of those whose paths he touched then. With his esteem growing, Tommy felt that the creative reigns in Zephyr were to tightly held by Candy and David. He was not consulted on the LPs final mix which had his guitar down in the mix, which left him very resentful. So in early 1972, he announced he was quitting Zephyr and forming a new Boulder based band, Energy, (taken from the Jeremy Steig album)

They were the first "heavy metal-jazz fusion" band. The groups best known line up was Stanley Sheldon, bass, Bobby Berge, drums, Jeff Cook, vocals, and Tom Stephenson, keys. In listening to the archival Energy CD released years later from demos they did, its a real head scratcher that they couldn't get a record deal, but they couldn't. This truly great new band, was taken under the wing of nascent

Boulder concert promoter Chuck Morris. He had them play repeatedly at his Tulagi nightclub, as well as serve as the back up band for all the top blues legends who would tour without back up bands. In Energy, they had the BEST backup band imaginable!

During this time, Billy Cobham, the incredible drummer in John McLaughlin's legendary Mahavishnu Orchestra, had secured a record deal with Atlantic to create his own jazz fusion LP Spectrum and form a band. From Mahavishnu he brought in Jan Hammer, the brilliant keyboardist and composer who was already well acquitted with Tommy. Cobham had everything charted out, but Tommy didn't read music. No problem. Tommy's natural gift for improv enabled him to help elevate the LP to being a true classic of the genre.

Meanwhile, back in Boulder, Energy could never break through and by 1973 Tommy was still broke. Joe Walsh, who, after leaving the James Gang, had moved to Boulder had met Tommy in 1971 and was and is a major fan of his playing, and was well known for saying "Bolin can play rings around me!" Joe was replaced in The Gang by Dominic Troiano on guitar and Roy Kenner, vocals, and their James Gang LP, Straight Shooter, didn't get airplay or sell, and it went straight to the cutout bins. So Joe told his old mates - "I've got the answer - Tommy Bolin."

With a huge backload of songs from Energy, Tommy contributed two full LPs worth of great songs for Bang! in 1973 and Miami in 1974. Both LPs were produced by legend Tom Dowd and are important chapters in Tommy's evolving recording career. Stand out tracks include Standing in the Rain, Alexis, Must be Love, and From Another Time. Again, Tommy was feeling limited being in "someone else's" band. He left The Gang, and like Zephyr did before, he had signed with Barry Fey as his manager. Fey was still the only big fish in Denver, and already knew Tommy. Soon thereafter Tommy moved to Los Angeles to be in the middle of the exploding 1970's rock music scene and business, and thus finally make his own mark as a solo artist.

It worked! Tommy got his own record deal. He was signed with Nat Weiss' Nemperor Records to record Teaser. He wanted the LP to show all his musical sides, and it certainly does. The song lineup:

The Grind (Bolin, Jeff Cook, Stanley Sheldon, John Tesar) Homeward Strut (Bolin) Dreamer (Jeff Cook) Savannah Woman (Bolin, Cook) Teaser (Bolin, Cook) People, People (Bolin) Marching Powder (Bolin) Wild Dogs (Bolin, Tesar) Lotus (Bolin Tesar)

Bolin was encouraged and coached by members of The Beach Boys to do his own vocals, which he was previously insecure about. Success! His confidence grew, and his vocals were "the voice" for his music. Musicians on this seminal landmark rock/jazz fusion LP included David Foster, David Sanborn, Jan Hammer, Stanley Sheldon, Narada Michael Walden, Jeff Porcaro, Praire Prince, Phil Collins and Glenn Hughes. Great album - still broke.

So after Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple at their touring zenith, the band, flush with big touring offers, had a meeting and discussed whether to disband or try to find a replacement. They chose the second option. However the extensive auditions were not revealing an obvious replacement. David Coverdale had been listening to the Billy Cobham LP Spectrum. He decided he thought Tommy might be the answer. He was invited over for what became a four hour jam. Coverdale relates, "We all just

stood there in amazement". Jon Lord said, "He was just fucking marvelous. I just had to play with this guy!" Tommy remembered "It was smiles all round" So along with Ian Paice and Glenn Hughes the five member lineup was finalized.

The band woodshedded in Munich, Germany, to develop and record Come Taste the Band. Tommy wrote the majority of the LPs music, some notable tracks include Getting Tighter, (his collaboration with Glenn Hughes), Coming Home, Dealer, and This Time Around/ Owed to G. A Jeff Cook song Lady Luck, was adapted and modified by David Coverdale. Come Taste the Band was released in late 1975. Starting in Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Asia, Japanese, US, and English tours ensued. For the first time, Tommy was on tour with a cadillac budget and lifestyle. In 1975/76 which rock artists were clean and sober? Over indulging in classic mid seventies fashion contributed to some erratic performances and served as a corrupting influence. But Tommy was now almost famous.

Purple soon imploded because of Tommy's need to finally go solo, and the toxic brew of rock and roll lifestyle that replaced his heart as the foundation for his reason for being in Purple. Having put off forming his own band when Teaser came out (because he was on tour with Purple), he finally built the Tommy Bolin Band, its first first line up being Mark Stein, keys, Narada Michael Walden, drums, and vocals, Reggie McBride bass, and Norma Jean Bell, saxes, and vocals, and undertook his first solo touring in May 1976. The club tour included a date at Chuck Morris' Ebbets Field in Denver. Soon
after the band played the Bottom Line in NYC with Nat Weiss in attendance. Being in the Big Apple led to Tommy "partying" way to much, having one of his worst ever shows, including stumbling off the small stage. Horrified, Weiss dropped Tommy from the label. Narada also left at that time, being replaced in the live band by Johnnie Bolin on drums, (Tommy's brother).

CBS Records immediately signed Bolin and he began to record Private Eyes, with the mandate being to narrow his artistic focus a bit for a more accessible yet authentic Bolin voiced LP. Joining Tommy was Mark Stein - Keyboards, Vocals, Reggie McBride - Bass, Vocals, Bobby Berge - Drums, Norma Jean Bell - Saxophone, Percussion, Vocals, and Carmine Appice - drums. Produced by Tommy and Dennis Mackay, the album was exactly as ordered by CBS. Chock full of radio friendly great Bolin spectacular guitar centric music:

Bustin' Out for Rosey (Bolin) Sweet Burgundy (Bolin, Cook) Post Toastee (Bolin) Shake the Devil (Bolin, Cook) Gypsy Soul (Bolin, Cook) Someday We'll Bring Our Love Home (Bolin, Tesar) Hello, Again (Bolin, Cook) You Told Me That You Loved Me (Bolin)

With all the attention Post Toastee got, the LP hit the mark. There was great reason for optimism. A late 1976 tour was secured opening up for Jeff Beck, a huge Tommy fan. With Post Toastee being the last song he ever played serving as foreshadowing, a cuban national with a variety a heroin choices was ushered in to Tommy's room post concert, and those sent to "mind" and keep Tommy from such indulging, didn't succeed. Finally, hours after the overdose occurred, the paramedics were called, and Tommy was found dead, neatly tucked into bed in a cleaned room.

He was buried on a freezing deeply mournful day in Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City, now a must stop for all who still revere this unique burning comet of a musical genius, Tommy Bolin

Tickets available at Boulder Theater Box Office, by phone at (303)-786-7030 or online at

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