In early 1975 Tommy recorded solos as a guest on the debut album from the hard rocking Canadian band Moxy.:
Buzz Shearman: vocals
Earl Johnson: guitar
Buddy Caine: guitar
Terry Juric: bass:
Bill Wade: drums
Tommy Bolin: guitar solos*
Tom Stephenson: keyboards
Note: Buddy Caine is listed on the album cover, but did not join the band until after the album was finished.
2. Sail On Sail Away
3. Can't You See I'm A Star
4. Moon Rider*
5. Time To Move On*
6. Still I Wonder*
8. Out Of The Darkness*
Moxy was formed in Toronto, Canada in 1974. Singer Douglas “Buzz” Shearman had been in Leigh Ashford, a band that had, in spite of constant personnel turnover, built significant momentum from their inception in 1967, including a top 30 single. Guitarist Earl Johnson, bassist Terry Juric and drummer Billy Wade had been in Outlaw Music, another Toronto group. Johnson and Wade had previously played in an incarnation of Leigh Ashford with Shearman
On the demise of Leigh Ashford in 1973, Shearman joined up with Johnson, Wade and bassist Kim Frased, and began playing together in the spring of 1974, still calling themselves Leigh-Ashford. Frased soon departed, and Johnson recommended Terry Juric. The group then changed it’s name to Moxy, and released “Can’t You See I’m A Star” as a single for Yorkville Records in 1974.
They landed a deal with Polydor the next year and flew to New York to record their first album over a two-week span with producer Mark Smith. As the sessions progressed into the guitar solos Johnson had a falling out with Smith, and Tommy Bolin was brought in to record solos on a number of the songs. Their self-titled debut was released in the summer of 1975 with “Fantasy” as the first single. Second guitarist Buddy Caine, a veteran of Outlaw Music, was recruited after the band returned to Toronto having heard the impact of the twin guitars.
Tommy’s appearance on the album was simply a stroke of luck. He happened to be in the same studio at the right time, and Moxy manager Roland Paquin knew Tommy from when Paquin was road manager for the James Gang. In spite of the short notice, Tommy plays some outstanding solos on a collection of great straight out hard rock tunes.
“Moxy” was getting significant airplay on FM stations in the U.S., and the band scored a worldwide deal with Mercury Records. Only two months after the debut album’s release the band would return to the studio to record Moxy II with Jack Douglas and Ed Leonetti producing. It is a popular misconception that Tommy Bolin also played on the second album.
The band had significant success into 1977, touring to support their popular Ridin’ High album, but by this time problems were growing within the band, including trouble Buzz Shearman began having with his voice. Shearman was replaced by their soundman, Brian Maxim, but that lineup soon broke up. They then recruited Mike Rynowski on vocals and Danny Bilan on drums, and released “Under the Lights” in the spring of 1978. Sales weren’t as good as expected though, and Rynowski changed his name to Mike Reno and went on to form the successful Loverboy in the 1980s.
Buzz Shearman died June 16, 1983 in a motorcycle accident, and chances for a reunion of the classic lineup were broken. After a period of dormancy Johnson, Caine and Wade recruited vocalist Brian Maxim and released Moxy IV in 2000. Wade succumbed to cancer in 2001 and Kim Hunt was brought in on drums. In 2004 the lineup consists of Johnson, Caine, Hunt and Alex Machin on vocals and Jim Samson on bass.
Though Tommy’s time with Moxy was short, the Moxy album is tremendously popular with Tommy’s fans. His tone and phrasing were very similar to his classic James Gang sound, and the material and performances by the rest of the band hold up as a true treat in classic hard rock.
Copyright ©2005 John Herdt.