In August of 1974, the James Gang released Miami, the band's second and final album to feature guitarist Tommy Bolin.
Joe Walsh had recommended the hard-living Iowan for the job. Bolin had played on Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer Billy Cobham's breakthrough jazz fusion album Spectrum before joining the Gang. Self-taught ( if you discount 4 lessons as a kid) , Bolin had it all: good lucks, good chops. He could play jazz and he could boogie. He attacked the guitar rather than laying like most UK blues-fed guitarists.
Following the Miami tour, Bolin, feeling restless, left the James Gang . He played on a few more albums, including his solo debut Teaser, before replacing Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple.
Bolin only played with Deep Purple for about a year, recording just one album Come Taste the Band in 1975. When the DP disbanded, Bolin recorded his second solo album Private Eyes. Just before a December 1976 concert a reporter finishing up his interview told Bolin “Take care of yourself,” to which Tommy replied, “I’ve been taking care of myself my whole life. Don’t worry about me, I’m going to be around for a long time.”
Bolin died that night of an overdose of heroin and alcohol, cocaine and barbiturates.
The James Gang lasted for two more albums. But this is the final one worth hearing.