From the archives: Rock star Tommy Bolin hailed from Sioux City
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Tommy Bolin died young, at 25, just as he was coming into his own as a rock musician.
The one-time lead guitarist for the group Deep Purple was found dead of drug overdose in a Miami hotel in 1976.
Thomas Richard Bolin was the son of Barbara and Richard Bolin of Sioux City and grew up happily there with his two brothers. He decided he wanted to be a musician when his father took him to an Elvis Presley concert in the mid-1950s.
The talented youngster learned his craft mostly by playing along with songs on the radio. His parents were supportive of his dream, and he gained experience with bands in Sioux City.
At 15, Bolin dropped out of school rather than cut off his long hair. He left Sioux City for Denver, Colorado, and tried to build a career, eventually playing with such groups as Zephyr, America Standard, Energy and the James Gang.
He joined English-based Deep Purple in 1975, replacing Ritchie Blackmore as lead guitarist, then toured with the group and cut albums, one of which contained seven songs he wrote or co-wrote.
The group disbanded in 1976, and Bolin formed his own group, the Tommy Bolin Band, which played in Sioux City over the Thanksgiving holiday just before his fatal trip to Florida.
Bolin was promoting his second solo album, "Private Eyes."
Although reports of Bolin's final days and hours conflict, the musician and singer was found dead in his hotel room Dec. 4, 1976, after performing the night before at the Miami Jai-alai Fronton Hall. The Dade County coroner said death was caused by an overdose of morphine, cocaine, lidocaine and alcohol.
More than 350 people attended Bolin's funeral at St. Joseph's Church in Sioux City, and he was buried at Calvary Cemetery. His music remains popular, and his fans faithful.
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