Sunday, January 27, 2008

Faces of NAMM

Just got home. Whew. I think NAMM surpassed everyone's expectations re the Tommy Bolin guitar, and it was wonderful to see so many fans sharing memories of the mercurial and meteoric genius that brought us all together. Tommy was a talent of Mozartean proportion...and rather than mourn his early passing, we instead rejoice that he stopped off at this corner of the Milky Way long enough to change our lives forever. He is missed but will never be forgotten.

A huge thanks to Elliott Rubinson for believing in this project, and to Johnnie for believing in us. I had always wanted to do something to help preserve Tommy's legacy, but was never sure what. I avoided covering his music because it just didn't feel right to go there, despite the huge temptation. Coming up with the guitar idea was cool, but I am lucky things developed over the years so as to put me in the postion of being able to bring Dean Guitars and Johnnie together. Let's hope the numbers add up to another series and another Tommy model....and another reason to do Frankfurt and NAMM!

I'm sorry that Barb, Rich, and Pudge are not here to see this, but trust they would be proud of the job done. I'm also sorry that Cleo was not able to hang on another six monthes, I'm sure she would have loved to be part of the excitement.

Thanks to so many others who helped in the background and at the show: Andrea Troiano, Chris Mackie, Craig Erickson, David Graw, David Hare, Derek Jubach, Evil D, Greg Hampton, Henry Howard, Joe Reagoso, John Bentzinger, John Herdt, John Puhl, Josh Maloney, Pat Baker, Rick Starczewski, Sean Vennett, Steve Czaplicki, Tamy Morgan (sign that guestbook!), Trace Keane, and many others I'm forgetting.

Great to meet Jeff Ocheltree!!!...who not only knew and was with Tommy and his family at some critical times, but has a reliable memory and was able to pin down a lot of facts that have been the subject of much speculation for over 30 years. (and he did gong work for my other big hero, James Coburn!).

Also great to meet the infamous Tony, manager of the Rainbow, who has known every major rock star of the past four decades and counts Tommy as his favorite. He made us feel at home there, and then we went off to the Whisky and closed it down. Life on the Strip!

Some favorite faces from NAMM 2008:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sensory Overload - NAMM Day 3 & 4

Elliott Rubinson and Nick with the finished product.

Four days of this is about the limit. Saturday was incredibly busy with another onslaught of fans descending on the Dean booth - definitely the most, shall we say, colorful congregation at the show. We were interviewed by an LA area rock cable network, and I was interviewed by Lacey Conner for the live broadcast. It ended yesterday at 5 PM and then we headed over to the Hilton which was jampacked.

The guitar made a real hit here, and the memorabilia display will be traveling on to Germany for the Frankfurt show in March. Plenty of orders were taken for the Teaser, and I expect we'll be doing another run of this edition and another model based on the Dean Z shape which is like the Ibanez Destroyer that Tommy used for slide playing.

Spending the day with Johnnie and friends at Venice and Santa Monica, then the Rainbow tonight. Tomorrow I'll try to hook up with my friend Bill Moore and maybe I'll have some pics from that.

A chip off the old block?

With Gen, my favorite Genitorturer.

With Lacey Conner of VH1 fame, the hardest-working girl at NAMM!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Agony and the Ecstasy - NAMM Day 2

90,000 people in the most bizarre modes of dress (and undress), wild hairstyles, quirky behavior...non-stop music of all kinds coming at you from every direction for 8 hrs....lights, effects, eye-popping displays...bona-fide rock, pop, and jazz stars and thousands of wannabes clamoring for a look, a snapshot, an alls add up to an assault on the senses such as you don't get anywhere but NAMM.

Pandemonium reigned today as hundreds of people converged on the Dean booth to meet their favorite metal stars, and the Tommy guitar attracted an interesting cross section, from those who actually saw him perform and even met him, to those who have only heard about the legend and want to know more: people who want to know if he really did jam with Hendrix when he was 17 at the Denver Pop Festival (true); whether he really was buried wearing Jimi's ring (also true), and myriad other stories that are the stuff of rock history, dreams, and lore .

Johnnie and I were interviewed for a live broadcast on the Dean website (scroll down to Tommy Bolin Tribute Guitar).

Johnnie signing more autographs and showing people the Tommy triple-disc CD that was released three days ago (good timing for us!) on Friday Music, The Ultimate: Redux.

Nick, David Hare, my old friend Craig Erickson, Johnnie, John Herdt (webmaster for Tommy Bolin Archives site).

Most important: the "Teaser" is selling! And some more great news - Jude Gold, editor of Guitar Player Magazine stopped by the booth and is going to do a feature on Tommy (he was on the cover of GP last February). Yeah!!!

Tommy Bolin "Teaser" Guitar Unveiled - NAMM Day 1

I don't have much time, but want to get some pics up for the people who have been waiting so long to see this guitar. It is truly gorgeous, and not just a cosmetic showpiece, but a real player's axe. Just as exciting was to see the interest from all kinds of people in the instrument and of course the display of Tommy's clothing, gold records, and photos. Many friends stopped by the Dean booth, and many new friends were made. Thousands and thousands of people here, practically the whole music industry, I'll post more details as time permits.

I designed the guitar as a tribute to Tommy, and stylized the famous image of him from the "Teaser" album, adapting it to a Strat-shape body. One of Tommy's surviving axes was used to base measurements and specifications on, and the pickups were custom hand-wound to match the impedence. The flame maple neck is unfinished on the back. Brushed chrome hardware, Sperzel tuning machines, Wilkinson bridge.

One of Tommy's Strats that he is seen playing with the James Gang had a Telecaster neck. I designed the headstock of this guitar to echo the Strat and Tele look, but it is unique to this Dean guitar.

"Teaser" is inlaid at the twelfth fret.

Johnnie Bolin and I very happy to see this project finally come to life!

Tommy on the Jumbotron and a few of the Dean Girls.

Elliott Rubinson (CEO Dean Guitars), Johnnie Bolin, Nick, Dean's Russian distributor.

Tommy fans and rock history buffs were thrilled to see this collection never before gathered in a venue such as NAMM.

I also designed the ad that Dean will be marketing the guitar with. They printed posters and Johnnie was kept busy autographing them. Japanese fans are particularly interested as Tommy (and Deep Purple) were huge there. Johnnie was interviewed for a Japanese music website, We Rock City,and we were both interviewed by Premier Guitar - look for that to appear on the website soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Da Vinci - Jerry's Artarama Redux

Another new ad for Da Vinci Fluid Acrylic from Jerry's Artarama. It includes a few pictures I took, describing ways to use the paint. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Saturday, January 12, 2008


This velvet suit, custom made by Karen Ulibarri for her boyfriend Tommy Bolin, is one of the holy grail objects of rockdom. It so perfectly represents Tommy's mystique and personality, and it was an honor to even be in its presence. I mounted it on a dark blue/purple velvet and it looks spectacular in the glass case. Thanks to M. Sean Vennett for this outstanding photograph!

The shirt was remounted in a new case. Together they were packed in a crate to be shipped to NAMM along with more boxes of photos and gold records. Dean Guitars has a very elaborate display and it will be exciting to see how they set of this up. I'll arrive in Anaheim Wednesday with Johnnie.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Brush With Greatness

I'm in Tampa putting together the Tommy Bolin display for Dean Guitars to be seen next week at NAMM. On Tuesday I opened several boxes sent from Johnnie Bolin, the Hardrock Cafe, and some special friends like Andrea.

It's incredible to actually be able to see up-close the famous t-shirt, airbrushed by Prairie Prince with Tommy's image.

Possibly even more famous is the red velvet suit that is seen in many photos of Tommy with Deep Purple and his own band. This is a true piece of rock history!

The gold record for Come Taste The Band, the album Tommy did with Deep Purple. Tommy totally transformed the iconic British powerhouse, and the result was a very "un-Purple" record that stunningly brought together his various rock, blues, and jazz influences. Unfortunately, it also partially eclipsed Bolin's debut solo album, Teaser (released the same year, and the best record ever!), which didn't receive proper tour support as Tommy became busy with Purple.

More to come....