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Died On This Date (February 27, 2010) T-Bone Wolk / Respected Journeyman Bassist

Posted by on February 27, 2010

Tom “T-Bone” Wolk
1951 –  February 27, 2010

With G.E. Smith on Saturday Night Live

T-Bone Wolk was a brilliant bassist who, though likely not a familiar name, was a familiar presence on stage and television since the 1980s.  Born in Yonkers, New York, Wolk, like so many of our rock heroes, decided on the night he first saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, that he was going to be a musician.  And within a few years, Wolk was playing in local garage bands.  His first break came in the early ’80s when he was asked to fill in for Will Lee in the Late Show With David Letterman band.  Wolk would later be the bassist for the Saturday Night Live house band. In 1981, Wolk was hired to play in the Hall & Oates band, with whom he spent over 20 years.  He also co-produced several of their records.  As a session player or producer, Wolk also worked with, among others, Carly Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Harry NilssonRoseanne Cash, Elvis Costello and Billy Joel.  T-Bone Wolk died of a heart attack on February 27, 2010.

Thanks to Michelle Aquilato for the help

63 Responses to “Died On This Date (February 27, 2010) T-Bone Wolk / Respected Journeyman Bassist”

  1. John Regan said

    A true musicians musician…inspiration, and Gentle Man. I will remember you always. Rest in peace.

    • jim gutekunst said

      Made growing up in Westchester, NY in the 60’s and 70’s great when you could see musicians like Tommy amd Bob Mayo. Tom played in some excellent bands and always was ahead of the pack musically.

  2. Keith McCArthy said

    T-Bone Wolk was a consummate musician, a scholar of the music who had mastered the many vernaculars comprising Blues, R&B and Pop music.

    He will be sorely missed though heaven now has a music director who can organize some mighty sessions up there.

  3. Jeff Ganz said

    This is really shocking news. T-Bone and I worked together in the early 80’s when he was on guitar. He was a tremendous musician who was always aware of the “big picture” when it came to his playing and production work as well as being really sweet and engaging every time I saw him through the years. I will miss him.

  4. jack daley said

    One of the best bassist on the planet and a great person as well. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him and heard his music

  5. He made a lot of people happy – including me. He was a great friend and a great musician. NY State accordian champ at age 13. He was an absolute natural player and a sweet heart of a human being. Everyone loved him and respected his musicianship. I had the honor of working with on many occasions – live and on recordings. They were some of the most memorable times of my life. Thank you T for your incredible gift that you shared so easily and for your humongous heart.

  6. Dean Moody said

    What a tragic loss, his playing bought so much joy to my life for such a long time. He will be sorely missed. RIP T Bone.

  7. Dawn A. Irving said

    Such a loss…T-Bone you will be so very missed. What an incredible talent and a wonderful guy.
    Heaven’s gonna have one helluva band! He’ll be joining his dear friend, Bob Mayo who passed before him.

  8. danny bernini said

    Tbone was an incredibly generous person to me. He introduced me to people 15 years ago that I still work with today. I’ve always been in awe of tbone’s talent and have had some of the most rewarding recording sessions and late night laughs with him that I will cherish for ever. I’m going to miss those rambling phone messages where he always apologized at the end for how long he was talking:) We kept talking about doing something together in 2010, but didn’t quite pull it off, I’ll regret that part. He will be missed.. already is!! Tbone was an incredibly generous person to me. He introduced me to people 15 years ago that I still work with today. I’ve always been in awe of tbone’s talent and have had some of the most rewarding recording sessions and late night laughs with him that I will cherish for ever. I’m going to miss those rambling phone messages where he always apologized at the end for how long he was talking:) We kept talking about doing something together in 2010, but didn’t quite pull it off, I’ll regret that part. He will be missed.. already is!!

  9. Kirk Powers said

    He was a true inspiration. He always saw the bid picture musically.
    Rest In Peace

  10. Corin said

    What a loss. He was such a beautiful bass player, he seemed so generous musically. Here’s a little video I did as a tribute to him:

    • Brian said

      Very Cool Tribute Corin! This is EXACTLY the kind of relaxed, soulful vibe that T-Bone stood for.

      • Class all the way….T-Bone whould be proud! (great phrase’n and that bassline! I sing also for living (est.85′) love Hall & Oates (that means T-Bone too!)
        He was a BIG part of thier classic history (besides his own history as a bassman)**so YES I’m a fan of that song also, “Everytime You Go Away” (I sing it too in my live shows) And My Man, that was all the way live! You look like John Goodman’s little brother! all respect..that was BEAUTIFUL!

  11. Steve Loeb said

    Anyone know anything about the funeral.
    I assume it’ll be in Yonkers where his dad still lives, but I don’t know where. Anyone know anything about it?

  12. Gerry Sorrentino said

    I am deeply saddened. He was not just a wonderful bassist, but a great musician. He will be missed by many.

  13. Billy Lee said

    Any time I ever met Tommy – I’ve always viewed him as a gentle caring man. His musicianship and presence has been in my life as long as I has been in the business. He was truly part of the PULSE of Music. We will all miss T-Bone.

  14. T-Bone was a really great guy and a wonderful musician. It’s very sad to lose him. He won’t be forgotten.

  15. Martin Foyle said

    Saw him, nearly stealing the show, backing Shawn Colvin at Dublins Whelans in 1993, he played a mean accordian.

  16. Alan Ahkin said

    Damn, he still owed me $20.00…..

  17. Mike Scheerer said

    T-Bone was an inspirational musician as well as the rest of the Hall and Oates band he will be missed greatly, however there is a need for Hall and Oates to still be “Hall and Oates” we love you guys…..

  18. America said

    I will miss Tommy so much. He was always so kind and so happy, and worked so hard to keep his passion of music alive. It is hard to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t see him again and hopefully typing it will help me do so. He was an inspiration and still is, for his wonderful music lives on in my CD collection and in many others’ CDs, too! He was so young, but yet lived such a full life. Reading all these thoughtful comments about Tommy really helps me remember the person he was instead of focusing on his death.

  19. Anthony Lombardo said

    T bone so sorry you inspired me to be a better musician.

  20. Eddie B said

    A Solid bass player….Enjoyed your Playing….R.I.P….Thanks for the Great Sounds!

  21. Susan Redding said

    I am so shocked and saddened by the news. My heart is breaking for T-Bone’s family, as well as for Daryl, John, and the rest of the band. I had the honor of meeting T-Bone, and he was such a gentleman. Tragic loss. Rest in peace, Mr. Wolk. You will be missed more than you know…

  22. Guy Davis said

    Farewell to a gentle friend and a brilliant multi-instrumentalist. Sorry you had to leave us so soon. Thank you for inspiring me to want to play better.

  23. Totally speechless.

    I had the rare & surreal pleasure of spending last year’s HALL & OATES Autumn Tour singing & playing with T-Bone.
    For that span of time, he was just about the best musical director I could have wished for and he went out of his way to guide me through the obstacle course of HALL & OATES music into which I’d stumbled. I have never found myself on stage with someone that capable of squeezing every last note out of the guitar with such ease and total effortlessness. Seamlessly alternating between his gourmet calibre bass playing & his guitar chops – he was definitely from another planet as made evident by the liquid guitar solos that he’d channel from the great beyond. There was absolutely NO separation between what he heard in his cerebral cortex and how he chose to execute those notes with his hands. It was a profound thrill to sing alongside such a master. Every other nite, he’d invariably pull me aside waaaaaay too close to show time and say something politely encouraging….followed by something as exacting and contrary as “…..what high note are you hitting in the 2nd half of the Bridge on “________ ___ ______ ? Juan, why don’t you double John on the high F# instead tonight but then jump back down to the lower 1/3rd for the ascending harmony line that carries us into the outro chorus? OK? Don’t sweat it buddy, you’re doing great…show-time” His ability to replicate the 4part vocal harmony on any of these now 30yr. old classic recordings – was dazzling, stunning, heartbreaking and nerve racking for me. As a Record Producer myself….I feel authorized to certify that T-Bone had the sub-divided, microtonal ears of a snake charmer, the hands of a magician, and the wings of a hummingbird. Perhaps MOST impressive of all was his encyclopedic knowledge of ALL modern music; a real historian. He was one of those cats that could wax poetic about exactly which guitar player’s brother accidentally ended-up on that most obscure blues record from the 60’s. He somehow seemed to remain a sincere music lover, despite his blazing success and meteoric discography.

    What’s most disconcerting for me is that we postponed what would have been our final mtg just now in early Dec and instead made a grandiose promise to one another that we’d produce some new MUTLU tracks here @ my nyc studio this spring. My obvious and overly sentimental point is that this becomes a stark reminder about how we’re better off seizing the moment. Life is short. Opportunities come & go. On an inversely positive note, and as a photographer – I also had the honor of shooting T-Bone a bit here and there. The memory of him catching me sniping his portrait will last a lifetime. In short, he loathed being photographed and eventually lectured me as to which angles were most suitable for him.

    What a peculiar combination to actually exist at that echelon of talent and still manage to be a nice guy & a good pal. His kindness rivaled his genius. (No, not the hollywood bullsh__ kind of “….oh baby, that’s genius…” I’m talkin’ genuine, sustainable, certifiable, GENIUS.

    My heart grew heavy with this news,

    juan patino NYC Winter ’10

    • sean burns said

      Thanks so much for sharing that Juan. He was the bass player’s bass player, and I can’t imagine anyone stating it better than what you’ve written. His kind are rare, and do not come along very often, and you were blessed to know him.

      • Bethany said

        Very well said. I never had the opportunity of knowing him but in meeting him the few times I did it was evident that he was a gentle, graceful man with a talent that was unsurpassed. Count yourself so lucky to have had the chance to learn from him and to make that magical music with him that will be immortal.


  24. Roy Vogt said

    I witnessed his bass mastery on tour with Shawn Colvin. An amazing player and a tragic loss to the Bass Brother and Sisterhood.

  25. Dave Edwards said

    I never did know T Bone, but admired his playing…he played a lot of instruments, he’s on an N.R.B.Q. record playing banjo…..and his bass work can be heard on Hall & Oates recordings, and reruns of SNL. I’m just sorry to see the passing of a musician with so much to give us. R.I.P. and Thanks, T Bone.

  26. Bob Cleary said

    The world has lost a great guy and fabulous musician. We’ll miss you T-bone! Thanks for everything……

  27. Ale Oliver said

    RIP play music with the Angels sweet man

  28. T-Bone…… You were so great. Heaven needed you. But we are heart broken. Thank you for your love. We miss you. And we won’t forget you.

  29. Being a Westchester County resident and having lived in Yonkers, NY, I felt a kinship to T-Bone. I will miss his dazzling licks on LFDH each month, he will be sorely missed by music lovers everywhere…

  30. FRANKIE PIPPS said

    He was quite simple when i saw him , just sticking to the elements of the song ,but yet with flair, and yet i knew that he knew way more , his controlled minimalism was superb !! R.I.P.

  31. RIP T-Bone….I’ve been blown away by your mastery of multiple instruments for decades. From SNL to Hall and Oates and producing your knowledge and virtousity will be sadly missed. Once I remember at a Hall and Oates show you playing the guitar behind your back with such ease. Your vocals and harmonies on Hall and Oates helped make that Philly sound. Gone too soon!

  32. Linda said

    Gone way too soon!

  33. RIP T-Bone. Thank you for all the music. Everything T-Bone played felt good!

  34. Lila Muzik said

    The ampersand is gone in Hall & Oates….what a tragedy, what a loss. God bless you T Bone. Without you, there would be no standard of excellence set.

  35. Geraldine said

    With all your professional accomplishments, I will always remember you as the great friend you were to me. From Mrs. Brody’s art class to a fellow Roosevelt High School Yearbook art staff member, to our high school Battle of the Bands, you were so sincere, fun to be with, and to work with. Your talent was expansive and inspiring to many, including myself. I will miss you so much.

    Your friend forever, and in peace

  36. Barry Shapiro said

    Oh no….. I just found out about Tommy’s passing. I played in a band with Tommy back in 1968/1969 (we were called “CHARLIE”) I played drums and was totally blown away by his bass playing and his vocal abillity. I have been following Tommy’s career for many years.

    My heart is heavy knowing that he is now gone, but I also smile knowing that I was part of his musical life, even if it was only for a short while.

    Tommy you will be deeply missed.

  37. Ray Davis said

    So very saddened at this news. I did not know the man personally but I knew of T- Bone as a bass player that played from the soul and seemed to “always fit” the song. He was one of those players that made me pay attention and enjoy the instrument, which made me a better player. My deepest sympathies to his friedns and family and for what it is worth- a deep thank you man for your grace and soul, be at peace.

  38. I’m still in shock. We were just talking about re-releasing “Slip Away”
    a cd he produced of my songs. I’ve known Tommy since 1975 when he played bass in my band for
    a couple years. He meant so much to so many. I will miss him . Life will be way different now
    for a lot of us.

    • Bethany said

      I have a CD of yours. Your musicality blended so seemlessly with Tommys style. It’s one of my favorites. You were blessed to have the chance to work with him. Keep making music, your soul has something to say too.


  39. Nick West said

    Always remembered him from a great show at the Albert Hall with Elvis Costello in 1987 – so sad to see him go

  40. Here’s a memory I’d like to share among many. I still remember meeting Mike Hickey a long time ago (approximately around the “Rhythm of Life” era) when I first bought my ovation guitar, which I still play up to the present day (this is now my trademark acoustic guitar.) I give Mike credit for connecting me to T-Bone, through whom which I would eventually meet Hall & Oates. Last time I spoke to T-Bone in person I even asked him how Daryl was doing. 😉

    This passing came as a complete surprise. He was one of a kind – I’ll never forget his humor. He was also the best joke-teller as well as a great bass player/session musician whom I looked up to. As a matter of fact he is one of my influences in my bass playing (listen to “Drive Me Up” from the Music Junction era).

    Rest in peace my friend!
    -Patrick Lee (of The Scaters)

  41. Gary Richardson said

    Very sad news indeed.I saw T Bone a few times when he played with Hall and Oates on their UK tours.Brilliant up there with the very very best.My thoughts are with his close friends and family.RIP

  42. Maura McCabe said

    Sadly, a true musical original is gone.

    I first heard (and as an added treat, saw) Tommy Wolk play the bass with Billy Vera at The Siding restaurant in Chappaqua, NY (bass & accordion with Frank Morgan, too) in those mid-70s days. Those gigs don’t get mentioned on the myspace page (The Ground Round in Yonkers, for crissakes!) or the official website; they are the dues-paying gigs that don’t really punch up the bio. Nevertheless, these guys played them with so much heart, you’d think they were on stage at Madison Square Garden.

    When Billy Vera pulled up stakes and moved to California, I had the unbelievably good fortune of inheriting the band he left behind in New York. The player list reads like a Grammy nominee-winner-session-player Who’s Who, and Tommy played bass, or even Wurlitzer electric piano if we were lucky. (guitars: John Leventhal & Marc Shulman; drums: Frank Velardi; bass after TW: Zev Katz!) Under the tutelage of guys like these it was possible for me to navigate a sloppy sea of disco & pre-punk musical junk to realize what was really important, and somehow avoid losing sight of what made me love music in the first place. I’m so thankful for the musical education and grounding (and cassette tape compilations made from 45s!) I got from Tommy (and BV, JL, MS…et al), both on the gig and at the post-gig hangs at the diners and late night clubs. When you went out with Tommy it was like having a human divining rod for all the best jukeboxes in Westchester County.

    I never really got comfortable calling him T-Bone; he was/is still Tommy to me. Even though I hadn’t seen him in many years, I think of him as a friend. When his musical career began to really take off (while my own floundered), when I did see him, in the wee hours in a supermarket on his way home from SNL while I was getting home from some bar gig, there was never a hint of the feeling that he’d passed me by or that somehow I wasn’t important or cool anymore. (Juan Patino, you nailed it when describing Tommy’s other-worldly ears and authentic nice-guy credibility.) He showed me the same warmth he always had done. This never changed.

    I hope that the sadness and loss felt by Tommy’s family can be ameliorated, if only slightly, by realizing how many lives were touched, and made immeasurably better for having known the funny, gifted and generous SOUL of Tommy “T-Bone” Wolk. Rest in peace, brother.

    • Steve Loeb said

      I remember his Ground Round days with Billy as well … just wanted to say your words brought me back to those early days with Tommy.

      We stayed good friends and connected frequently to the very end. I only heard from him a few weeks ago when he was about to leave for Jamaica. I will miss him so much. What an incredible loss for so many. I only wish he knew how many loved not only his music but the person he was.

      Thanks again for your comments

      • Maura McCabe said

        Thanks, Steve. When it comes to Tommy there are probably eight million stories, and then some. It’s nice to be able to focus on the things that connect us, and the music is certainly one of those things.


  43. Jay Watson said

    I had the pleasure of meeting T-bone in 1997 and renewing our aquaintance again in 2003 when he was in Dallas with H & O. He was really really nice guy. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. T-bone, Love you man….

    Jay Watson

  44. Steve Loeb said

    He was seeing a cardiologist and was being treated.

  45. Stephen Marcus said

    I met Tommy in 1973 when I was recording
    with Frank Morgan at a basement 4 track
    studio in White Plains. Tommy came in with a Telecaster and a fretless bass and
    changed everything!….
    Wonderful musician….
    Wonderful person….
    Rest in peace.
    Rise in Glory.

  46. I am deeply sad. I used to see Tom with “Big River” in local Westchester Bar Gigs – they later became the Guy and Pipp Gilette band. Tom played a late 60’s Telecaster through a tweed bassman. Mike Cavallo played drums. This was some of the BEST music I’ve ever heard. I also saw Tom play with Billy Vera, Ground Round Gigs I recall. I went to Roosevelt High School and was a few years younger than Tom. I played Guitar, and he was always encouraging me to play, let me sit in from time to time. I bought a used telecaster in 1973 on his advise. I still have that guitar. I remember seeing Tom and GE playing with a band called “Domino” ; at Bend Overs (Pelham) and Moonlight Mile (Dobbs Ferry). Tom was just a great guy, a brilliant musician, loved by everyone, and will be missed.

    • said

      My sister, JoAnn, and I used to go to tuckahoe..all the time to see this amazing band ! We became very friendly with Guy, Pip and Mike especially !!! Going to see them, hang out with them was always a night full of great music and friends !
      Lisa Doino

  47. W Deadder said

    I never knew T-Bone but grew up watching him in awe on SNL. I always sited him as an influence on my own bass playing and can’t believe this news.

    Thanks for the inspiration, sir.

  48. Sitting here enjoying the video of Carly Simon @ Martha’s Vineyard for the many times I’ve seen it, and thought I’d look up the band and find out where everyone is these day’s and started with T-Bone and boy I’m sorry I did, what sad news, he was truly an inspiration to many, and with all the words already spoken to this passing I can not add more, except why oh why? I lost a good friend last October to the same thing Monte Wise was with Electro-Voice and a legend too. We are left here hurting with this news. My birthday was the 3rd and now finding this out it takes away my happy face. I loved you Tommy and Thanks for all your music bro’. Hope to see you again in the heaven with all the others.

  49. Bad news! How will Daryl and John ever replace him?
    Trouble is, once you’ve had a T-Bone, everything else is just a burger!
    Just a suggestion, how about doing a version of ‘Abraham, Martin and T-Bone’ on Live At Daryl’s House?
    All the best to all those left wondering..

  50. Alton Knauff said

    Loved his column he wrote for Guitar for the practicing musician back in the 80’s

  51. Patrick Monahan said

    Sorry to hear the news of T-Bone’s death. I grew up in the 80s and remember many of Hall & Oates hits.

    I found this great video on You Tube which is a cover of Boz Scaggs’ “LowDown” — killer cover version. RIP T-Bone.

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