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My Walk with Tommy Bolin

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This is my true story of my personal discovery of "one of" the most unique guitarist to grace this earth back in the late 60's and early 70's. Sadly, Tommy passed at the age of 25 on Dec 4th 1976 of an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol after the first night he was to go on a world tour as The Tommy Bolin Band opening for Jeff Beck in Miami. On Dec 3rd 2019, Tommy was inducted into The Colorado Music Hall of Fame. I wrote this for a movie idea after this show. I hope you enjoy!

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Do you REALLY want to know?

The story begins the night of Tommy Bolin’s induction into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame on December 3rd, 2019 at The Mission Ballroom in Denver.

(Opening visuals are scenes of downtown Denver, driving around the brand new RiNo neighborhood where The Mission Ballroom is located, then you see a car park in a parking spot near the facility.)

After excitedly arriving to the venue a couple of hours before the VIP meet and greet, fans of Tommy’s, John and Angie, decide to find the best spot to park, then walk to the nearest restaurant to grab a beer and a bite to eat. Just a couple of blocks away they see The Walnut Room. Inside, they look around for a booth to get comfortable. They notice some pool tables in the back area. They walk that direction as John notices a young man shooting pool on his own. Angie and he decide to park themselves at a table nearby. John asks the stranger if he could challenge him in a game of billiards. The stranger obliged. While John racks the pool balls, the young man introduces himself with an extended hand, “I’m Scott.” (me) “Good to meet you Scott, I’m John.” (he) Noticing my purple Tommy Bolin Teaser T-shirt says, “Cool shirt. Who is it?” (me, with a big grin) “Do you REALLY want to know? Because I could tell you a fun story if you REALLY want to know. (he, now laughing) “Well yeah! Now I do REALLY want to know!” Well then, let me tell you a little story of MY OWN DISCOVERY of a guitar player whom I very seriously consider to be the most unique and simply best ever to play the instrument!! (pointing to shirt), His name is Tommy Bolin. And he’s being inducted into The Colorado Music Hall of Fame TONIGHT @ The Mission Ballroom!” Scott, with a grin and now curious head shake, acknowledges the idea and prepares to break. “SURE, tell me your story!”

(John begins and happy to do so.) Alright! Here I am, the Summer of 1983, I was 15 years old. After having lived in central California the previous 4 years near Fresno, I now find myself living dreadfully in Papillion Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha) after my dad was transferred via The Air Force. I was throwing darts in the garage with my newly made friends Jeff, Greg and Joe, when on the radio comes this KILLER bass line THUMPIN’ the speakers! (Fade into a garage scene where my friend Greg reaches over and turns up “Post Toastee”!) Greg says, “I LOVE this song!” I, myself, had never heard the song before, so I asked Greg curiously, “Who is this?” Greg, over the cranked-up speakers, “It’s Tommy Bolin!” (as if I should know). My friends and I continue to throw darts as I begin to really get into the song. Greg sings in time, “Don’t let your mind Post Toastee, like a lot of my friends did.”

After the 10-minute EPIC jam ends, another friend, Joe, says, “Yeah, I have Tommy’s first album called “Teaser”, but it doesn’t have “Post Toastee” on it. We can go listen to it over at my house if you’d like. So, we head over to Joe’s house. As he puts on side one of “Teaser”, Joe gently hands me the album jacket to which I’m immediately drawn into a photo of a young man’s long dark flowing hair swooshing in front of a handsomely grinning smile. After admiring Tommy’s "look" for a moment, I flipped the album to read the credits on the back. I quickly became totally fascinated and mesmerized by the GUITAR ROCK music I was hearing from track #1 through 4 and became completely curious as to who this Tommy Bolin guy is. After the first side came to an end, I eagerly flipped the vinyl to soon recognize that Side 2 was even MORE ASTONISHINGLY BRILLIANT!! Not to mention, the album included TWO instrumental hard rocking jazz spectaculars, one on each side! I truly felt like I had just discovered someone INSANELY special, right from the first listen! I HAD TO know more! Why isn’t this guy famous, I wondered? This whole album “Teaser” just BLEW MY MIND!! Greg tells me that Tommy had died of a drug OD in 1976 at the age of 25. Greg also knew that he was from Sioux City and even took over for Joe Walsh in The James Gang for a couple of albums called “Bang” and “Miami”. (Greg’s big brother had “Bang”. Gotta love big brothers! I didn't have one, I was one.)

Remember, this is the early 80’s, we didn’t have the internet to look up the history of our latest and greatest favorite bands. I immediately went out and found Tommy Bolin’s “Teaser” & “Private Eyes” (the album with Post Toastee), and James Gang’s “Bang” at the record store. They went on heavy rotation on the home stereo while shooting pool. I quickly became entranced with the brilliant songwriting tenderness of some of the lyrics while combining that with guitar rippin’ ROCK coming from each track. (Fade into Tommy and The James Gang performing “Alexis” live.)

All through high school I would introduce kids to Tommy. It became my personal mission to ask every kid I ran into, “Say, have you ever heard of Tommy Bolin?” I was baffled by the fact that 99% of the response was “no”. Most kids I was associating with were listening to Zeppelin and Sabbath, Van Halen, Ozzy, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, yadda yadda. I felt it was a shame that very rarely did someone know who Tommy was. So, I took it upon myself to encourage EVERYONE to look up Tommy Bolin! I would even write his name down on a piece of paper for them, if I could.

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