Top 10 Tommy Bolin Songs

Tommy Bolin Songs

Our Top 10 Tommy Bolin Songs list presents a a sampling of the music Bolin recorded as both a solo artist and a member of various rock bands, some well known, some not. Born in Iowa, Tommy Bolin began his musical journey with The Mysterious band before joining Denny and The Triumphs at the age of thirteen. In this early band, Bolin shone as the lead guitarist, showcasing his prodigious talent at a young age. It was during this period that he developed a passion for rock, pop, and R&B. You could hear all his influens in his okaying and songwriting.,

His early successes included a stint with Denny and The Triumphs, who were later inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bolin then moved to Colorado to join American Standard and, subsequently, Ethereal Zephyr.

In 1972, Bolin took a bold step by forming his own band, Energy, although they struggled to secure a record contract and did not release an album. After this setback, he joined the 4-Nikators and took a break from performing to focus on songwriting. In 1975 Bolin signed with Nemperor Records and recorded his first solo album.

In 1973, Tommy Bolin took over for Domenic Troiano in the James Gang, who himself had replaced Joe Walsh. During his time with the band, Bolin recorded two albums: Bang in 1973 and Miami in 1974. Apart from one track on Bang, Bolin penned or co-penned all the songs on these albums.

Between his work with the James Gang, Bolin collaborated with legendary drummier Billy Cobham on his first solo album called Spectrum. This project featured Bolin on guitar, Cobham on drums, Leland Sklar on bass, and Jan Hammer on keyboards and synthesizers.

Eventually, Bolin decided to leave the James Gang. He then engaged in session work for various rock and jazz artists. Bolin also toured with Carmine Appice and The Good Rats. At the beginning of 1975, he served as a guest studio guitarist for the Canadian band Moxy, playing solos on six tracks of their debut album.

After his solo project, Bolin was invited by Deep Purple to contribute to their album Taste the Band. Following Deep Purple’s disbandment in 1976, he established the Tommy Bolin Band and embarked on a tour to promote his album Private Eyes.

Tommy Bolin’s final live performances were while promoting his album Private Eyes. During this tour, he had the opportunity to open for legends like Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. His last show took place on December 3, 1976. Sadly, just a few hours later after the show, Bolin died from an overdose involving heroin, alcohol, cocaine, and barbiturates.

Despite his short-lived career, the top 10 Tommy Bolin songs demonstrate his exceptional skills as a composer and guitarist while sadly showcasing a talent that passed away way too soon.

# 10 – Homeward Strut

We kick off our Tommy Bolin songs list with the scorching instrumental track “Homeward Strut” from his debut solo album, Teaser, released in 1975. The instrumental style bears a resemblance to the sound and groove of Jeff Beck’s album Wired, although, of course, that album came out about a year later. The guitar work is extraordinary, from the lead guitar playing to the funky rhythm guitar. It seems like Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards might have been listening to this track.

# 9 – Bustin’ Out for Rosey

“Bustin’ Out for Rosey” serves as the compelling opening track on Tommy Bolin’s second album, Private Eyes, released in September 1976. This song highlights Bolin’s impressive guitar brilliance and his distinctive vocal style, making it a standout on his final album. The term “Rosey” in the song’s title was a euphemism for heroin during the 1970s, and the lyrics explore the theme of seeking escape and euphoria through the drug, capturing the darker, more introspective side of Bolin’s songwriting.

# 8 – Sail On – with Zephyr

At number eight on our list, we revisit the early days of Tommy Bolin with his band Zephyr, a group renowned for their distinctive blend of psychedelic blues. The lineup boasted the powerful lead vocals and harmonica of Candy Givens, alongside Tommy Bolin’s brilliant guitar playing. They were supported by John Faris, who contributed organ, piano, and flute, David Givens on bass and backing vocals, and Robbie Chamberlin handling the drums and additional backing vocals. This ensemble created a rich, full sound that captured the spirit of their era and showcased Bolin’s burgeoning talent.

#7 – Quadrant 4 – With Billy Cobham

At number seven on our Tommy Bolin songs list, we couldn’t overlook featuring a track from “Spectrum,” the debut solo album of jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham, released on October 1, 1973. Tommy Bolin lent his formidable guitar skills to this standout album. One of the key highlights is the electrifying track “Quadrant 4,” which showcases a stellar lineup: Billy Cobham on drums, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Tommy Bolin on guitar, and Lee Sklar on electric bass. This ensemble created a powerhouse performance that perfectly encapsulates the energy and talent of the musicians involved, making it a must-include in any roundup of Tommy Bolin’s best work.

#6 – Lady Luck – with Deep Purple

“Lady Luck” is a standout track from the album “Come Taste The Band” by Deep Purple, and it’s always been one of my favorite songs from the band. The song was written by Tommy Bolin and Jeff Cook. Notably, just past the one-minute mark, Tommy Bolin delivers a compelling rock and blues guitar solo. It’s brief but impactful, quickly making its point and adding a sharp, energetic burst to the song. The band lineup for this album featured David Coverdale on lead and backing vocals, Tommy Bolin on lead and acoustic guitars, Jon Lord on keyboards, Glenn Hughes on bass, and Ian Paice on drums.

Read More: David Coverdale -The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview

#5 – Fantasy – with Moxy

Tommy Bolin was not a member of the band Moxy, but he played most of the guitar solos on the band’s debut album. It’s worth checking out because Bolin lays down some great guitar work on the album. This track is slow, but Bolin unleashes some killer stuff here, especially toward the end of the song.

Read More: Top 10 Moxy Songs

#4 – Standing In The Rain

Replacing someone like Joe Walsh in the James Gang would take someone special. Of course, someone like Tommy Bolin was beyond someone special. We couldn’t assemble a list of Tommy Bolin’s songs without adding one of the tracks he recorded with the James Gang. Tommy Bolin lights it up all over the place on this killer track. Tommy Bolin wrote the track, “Standing In The Rain.” It was released on the James Gang album entitled Bang. The album was released in 1973. It featured Roy Kenner on lead vocals, Tommy Bolin on guitars, Dale Peters on bass guitar, and Jim Fox on drums.

Read More: Top 10 James Gang Songs

#3 – Savannah Woman

Now, this one was just too cool. Its groove and vibe inspired a lot of music in the 1970s. The song “Savannah Woman” was released on the album Teaser. Prairie Prince lays out a Havana-style groove on the drums, locking it with Paul Stallworth on bass. Phil Collins adds a little percussion, setting up a rhythm section to die for. Of course, in the end, it’s all about Tommy’s playing, and on this one, he dived into some really interesting licks that crossed many musical genres. 

#2 – Teaser

This one captures you instantly with that opening guitar riff full of glam and blues. No one mixed it up like Tommy Bolin. “Teaser” was the title track to his debut album. The album was released in 1975. That is the legendary Jeff Porcaro playing drums. Stanley Sheldon, who would play with Peter Frampton for many years, was on bass. This is just so good. The guitar work in this song stands as some of the best rock guitar playing in classic rock history. 

#1 – Post Toastee

The sound of classic rock guitar playing and groove stands front and center on this classic track. The song, “Post Toastee,” which always reminded me a bit of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” would become one of Tommy Bolin’s signature songs. The lineup for Tommy Bolin’s second and final album, Private Eyes, featured Tommy Bolin on handled guitars, keyboards, vocals, and piano, Reggie McBride on bass and vocals, Mark Stein on keyboards and vocals, Bobby Berge on percussion and drums, Bobbye Hall on percussion, and Norma Jean Bell on percussion, vocals, and saxophone.

Read More: Top 10 Cream Songs

Feature Photo Credit form top of page : Freebird, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Completely Updated April 17, 2024

Top 10 Tommy Bolin Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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