Tommy Bolin....a brush with the past today

  • Wed a female frustrated over her keyboard called for some tech support at work. When I asked for her name so I could enter it into the computer she said Norma Bell. Well bells started ringing in my head...that name sounds familiar! I put her on hold as I hit Google. "Are you Norma Bell from the Tommy Bolin band and Private Eyes?" It was her. She's the only TBB member never interviewed. I really should have asked her what she was up to these days and for a memory of Tommy....but I think I got so excited I was talking to her I forgot. Normally we do not put people right through to the techs but I made sure she got assitance and a code red right away. I mentioned her awesome work on tracks like Post Toastee and Sweet Burgundy and how great she is...She thanked me. Wow....I had just been listening to this stuff a couple of weeks ago. She is one of my favorite things about that album. Later at my gig it hit me that it was 30 years ago this month that Bell began her association with Tommy onstage and in the studio for the Private Eyes album. It's an amazing coincidence...maybe it's a sign we need to celebrate this great album's 30th anniversary.


  • great story man ..
    i´m with you private eyes is my all time fav album it just have it all
    BOLIN ´S NO 1 :bow:

  • WOW, John.
    Stuff like this happens to you almost all the time.
    I remember 'way back, you did something like find yourself
    at the "Coast to Coast" pizzeria. Or something like that.
    Or you were playing a CD in your car, as you drove past a
    store with the same name as the GH song.........:eek:

    Norma Bell.....the lady who played the saxaphone, right?
    I guess if you wanted to do the research, EVERY PERSON
    ON THE PLANET, in some way or another, is connected to the
    Deep Purple Family Tree.

    Have a list of interview questions nearby, in case she calls again!!!


  • I believe she is from Detroit, or at least lived here at some point recently. She used to play in clubs around here frequently, though I am not sure if I have seen any ads for her playing around here in the past year or two. Maybe she relocated. I never saw her play, but I always wanted to stop up to see her, just for the Bolin connection.

  • Great story, John!
    I recently heard some of her modern and new stuff which sounds of course totally different, compared to the TB era. One of the songs called "Im the baddest bitch"....:cool:

    cheers, Achim

  • So that's what's happening when I get put on hold.......the other person in Googling on the computer while I'm waiting. :lol:

    Great story John.



  • Actually, as for the CTC Pizzaria....what happened was I was on my way to my hotel in San Francisco for the Deep Purple Bananas tour in 2004 and I drove right by a restaurant called Bananas right around the corner from where I was staying. If Im not mistaken I was listening to the title the same time Im not sure now but I did write about it so it's either here or on Hiway Star. I have the photo to prove it!!! Well extending the family tree further, today I talked with early Whitesnake keyboardist and session great Pete Solley and asked him a little bit about those days. He also co wrote the huge Romantics hit talking in your sleep and told me he snuck in the Arp keyboard bass line! I really love this job I am not permanent yet because these companies move at a snails' pace....but everything is going well. I'm still gigging 5 days a week too.


  • Had another brush with the Bolin family tree a few months ago at work when the bass player of the James Gang called us. A friend I used to work with on ships told me he was friends with Dale Peters and Dale confirmed it, (not that I didn't believe my friend as he never spins tales). He said the reunion with the James Gang was great, they would be doing more gigs if it weren't for Joe's Eagles commitments taking priority right now.


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