Bolin, a Native/Aboriginal American, had his first push into the music industry with amateur outfit Denny & The Triumphs and American Standard, leading to session work for Lonnie Mack. In 1968 he secured a recording contract with Probe' after forming Hard Rock act Zephyr. This act, featuring the membership of Tommy Bolin (guitar), Candy Givens (vocals), David Givens (bass), John Farris (keyboards/saxophone/vocals) and Robbie Chamberlain (drums) had a U.S. 48 charting self-titled 1970 album, but their second on Warner', Going Back To Colorado(1971) failed to cut the mustard.
Bolin then formed a Jazz-fusion outfit titled Energy, this ended off being a short stint in favor of his position in The James Gang seeing the completion of two albums, Band (1973) and Miami (1974) before replacing Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. Being featured on one studio album Come Taste The Band (1975), an album that shared store space with his debut solo release Teaser (1975) and managed a 76 in the U.S. charts. Bolin then left the sinking Deep Purple to work on his second solo release featuring support musicians Mark Stein(ex-Vanilla Fudge; keyboards), Reggie McBride (ex-Rare Earth; bass), Naranda Michael Walden (ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra; drums), Norma Jean Bell (ex-Frank Zappa/ex-Steve Wonder; saxophone/vocals/percussion). The resulting Private Eyes (1976) made only 98 on the U.S. charts but Bolin wouldn't have the chance to make another for he overdosed just weeks after it's release on 4th December 1976, aged 25.