“That long-haired hippie’s got the word ‘f**k’ on his guitar!” Tommy Bolin’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard has one of the most checkered histories of any ’Burst – watch the late guitar hero play it live on TV with his pre-Deep Purple band, Zephyr

Tommy Bolin plays his legendary Gibson Les Paul at Columbia rehearsal studios in Los Angeles, California in November 1975
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

When one thinks of the electric guitar greats who have come and gone from Deep Purple over the decades, usually Ritchie Blackmore – a hugely influential riff master who's almost universally regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time – and Steve Morse, the technically brilliant maestro who defined the band's latter-day era, come to mind.

Less well-known than those two names is Tommy Bolin, a supremely talented guitarist who helped keep Deep Purple afloat (albeit briefly) after Blackmore's initial departure in 1975. 

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.