Guitarist Tommy Bolin pictured in the early 1970s. The annual Tommy Bolin Music Festival this weekend aims to reshape the stigma about his drug and alcohol addiction by helping others.

SIOUX CITY — The theme of new beginnings frames this weekend’s Tommy Bolin Music Festival.

As in years past, the rock guitarist’s friends and former bandmates will play. But the purpose this year comes to amend his stigmatized legacy by helping others. (Find the lineup and times here.)

“Tommy’s alcoholism and drug abuse was a disease. He was sick. There was nowhere for him to turn, especially at that time,” said Bill Schenk, a Chicago producer and Bolin family friend. “There are songs where he is openly struggling with the compulsion, predicting he has the sickness.”

A song by the former Deep Purple guitarist has set the event’s theme for the past 10 years. Thoughts of “Shake the Devil” evolved into this year’s idea of new beginnings.

In addition to live music, this weekend’s event is a pre-release for “Mr. Bolin’s Lake Night Revival.”

The album is a collection of Tommy Bolin’s unfinished work completed by classic rockers. The disc’s national release comes this fall, and will be promoted through an addiction awareness campaign.

“I love my brother. I feel like he was short-changed at a young age,” said drummer Johnny Bolin of Sioux City.

Tommy Bolin died of a drug overdose in December 1976 while on tour in Miami. His last shows included opening for Peter Frampton and Jeff Beck. Tommy Bolin was 25.

Proceeds from the new album will to go Jackson House, a drug and alcohol recovery center in Sioux City. The “new” material comes from a reel of acoustic demos stashed in the back of an amplifier.

“The idea is to rehab Tommy’s image and legacy,” said Schenk, who is producing the album.

The 17-track release is four years in the making, and includes jazz and soul elements in addition to hard rock and power ballads.

Contributing to the recording are members of Boston, Dokken, Rainbow, Alcatraz, Mr. Big, The R. Kelly Band and The Ted Nugent Band, and others.

Money raised at this weekend’s event will go to the Sioux City Public Museum, which is scheduled to reopen late this year at the new Fourth Street location downtown.

The museum has displayed Tommy Bolin pieces in the past, and may include a permanent exhibit in the new space with suits, records and guitars, Johnny Bolin said.

Tommy Bolin was a member of Zephyr (1969-1971), The James Gang (1973-1974), Deep Purple (1975-1976).

Although his professional career spanned about 10 years, Tommy Bolin left behind an extensive catalog that includes about a dozen solo albums, and more compilations, live and group recordings.


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