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© Damien Phelan/ Tommy Bolin Archives
A Sioux City, Iowa native who filled the shoes of both Joe Walsh in The James Gang and Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple, Tommy Bolin’s status of ’Best Replacement Guitarist” is impressive enough. But he was an astonishingly gifted and forceful blues-rock player in his own right, who lit up every outfit he joined.
Bolin played a number of different guitars during his brief career, but his main instrument was a stock 1963 Stratocaster (treble dialed back, bass dialed full) which he powered through HiWatt tops and Sound City cabs. He described the combination as ‘hot.’
With his strong interest in progressive rock, jazz (he played on drummer Billy Cobham’s fusion masterpiece Spectrum) and reggae, there’s no telling where Bolin would have taken his music.
Tommy Bolin died of a drug overdose on 4 December 1976.