Although he had already played with the James Gang and Billy Cobham, Tommy Bolin is probably best known for his brief stint in Deep Purple. Bolin may not be one of the world’s most recognised guitarists, but long after his death there is a considerable amount of admiration for his skill, from critics and fans alike. In Deep Purple he appeared on Come Taste The Band and as a live guitarist he can be heard on the truly dreadful Last Concert In Japan (where Bolin played with a paralysed arm!). Opinion is split amongst Purple enthusiasts, some claim that Bolin is much underrated and that his period in Deep Purple should be more popular, while others feel that he was never a suitable replacement for Ritchie Blackmore. If that one album with the band had not been credited to Deep Purple, history would almost certainly have treated it as a much more significant record. As a solo artist the two albums released during his lifetime, in 1975 and 76, are excellent pieces of work displaying his talent on the guitar as well as some wonderful singing and effective songwriting skills. Throughout and following his tenure with Purple, Bolin struggled with a serious heroin addiction, an overdose of which resulted in his tragically early death at the age of just 25.
Followers: Steve Morse, Randy Rhoads
Influenced By: Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton...