By Trace Keane

Trace: How it was to work with Tommy Bolin?

Jimmy: I was all of 26 years old. It was 1976 and the second big tour with an established artist that I was involved with in and it was an eye opening experience that I will never forget. We performed in packages with many bands popular at that time, Redbone, Riders of the Purple Sage, Pure Prairie League, Gary Wright, Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Blue Oyster Cult, Rush, Foghat, Tony Williams New Lifetime, Jeff Beck, the Jan Hammer Group and the Rick Derringer Group. It was a wonderful time in music and Tommy was a great musician, there were great musicians in the band and we were performing a terrific repertoire of music nightly. Basically, I was in heaven and the environment was extremely inspiring. I was moved and motivated in every way.

Trace: In which recordings or tours did you play with him?

Jimmy: Really only one tour with two separate legs, of which the second leg was cut short by Tommy’s passing in Miami. I was hoping to play on his follow up recording to Private Eyes, which at one point on the tour bus, he mentioned to me that he wanted to call his new recording “I Gotta Dance.” I know he was working on some material for this recording as well.

Trace: What are your favourite recordings from Tommy, solo and as a member of a band?

Jimmy: Loved Teaser, the first recording by Zephyr, also their second recording Going Back to Colorado, Billy Cobham’s first solo recording Spectrum and Deep Purple’s Come Taste the Band.

Trace: How did you meet Tommy?

Jimmy: I had been playing some with organist, keyboardist, vocalist Mark Stein and he recommended me for the gig after bassist Reggie McBride left the group. That was shortly after the release of Private Eyes. I auditioned at SIR here in Los Angeles and I was hired by Tommy to go on tour. Our first gig was at Mile High Stadium in front of some 60,000 people. That in itself, was one of my most inspired and thrilling moments in my young career. It was totally surreal man! But it was a real shot in the arm! I’ll always be thankful to Mark for the opportunity!

Trace: What did you think when he joined Deep Purple? Did you like Purple? Any player in particular?

Jimmy: I thought it was a brilliant opportunity for Tommy to reach a super large audience and he most definitely deserved the attention. He was brilliant! Deep Purple was also known as a real serious musicians band. I was a big fan. I was a big fan of Glenn Hughes and really liked Ian Paice and Jon Lord… I was hooked from the first time I heard “Hush” on the radio!

Trace: Were Purple very big in the USA in those days?

Jimmy: Yes… very much so… I was hip to them right out of the gate, 1968. I was working part time in a record shop out in Huntington, Long Island, so I was checking out all the new releases and I remember picking up there first single “HUSH.” It ROCKED THE HOUSE!

Trace: Do you think that Tommy’s talent is recognized nowadays?

Jimmy: I would hope so… It’s been about 33 years since he passed and I know that he still to this day has very loyal fans, and of course there’s the new generation of young guitarists who will also find out about him and study his music and admire his musicianship. It’s a subject I am often asked about and discuss with fans all around he world. He definitely left his fingerprint in the world of history’s finest guitar players.

Trace: What are the recordings you are most satisfied with from your career?

Jimmy: There are quite a few projects I have been involved in over the past 33 years that I feel good about. To name a few… anything by the Yellowjackets, Bobby McFerrin’s Bang Zoom. Anything by Jing Chi, Allan Holdsworth/Alan Pasqua Group Live at Yoshi’s DVD, my solo projects ARC and RED HEAT, Gino Vannelli’s Brother to Brother and Bruce Hornsby’s Harbor Lights and Hot House to name a few.

Trace: Are you recording something nowadays?

Jimmy: I just finished my third solo project, Nightfall with co-producer, Joe Vannelli. A wonderful project by reed man Katisse Buckingham called Lyrical Worker. Two wonderful singers recordings… Luba Mason, Crazy Love, and a self titled recording by Patricia Talem. I also recorded two songs for guitarist Bruce Kulick’s new project. I’ve also finished recording with drummer Simon Phillips on two projects, one for a German composer named Michael Schmidt entitled Destination and the other by German guitarist Chris Beckers, Seven Frames of Mind. I am also producing many projects including several projects now with co-producer Jeff Lorber. MY BEST WISHES… Peace… Jimmy Haslip.

Bassist Jimmy Haslip played in the final lineup of the Tommy Bolin Band up through the night when Tommy passed away. He is world-renowned and has played with some of the top musicians in the world.