Life and career
Wolk was born in Yonkers, N.Y. and was a state accordion champion by age 12. Seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, however, led him to bass and guitar—the former influenced by James Jamerson and Paul McCartney. Although he studied art at Cooper Union, most of his youth was spent playing in bar bands, where he first met guitarist G.E. Smith (who gave him the nickname T-Bone—for blues guitarist T-Bone Walker—after Wolk played his bass behind his head during a solo). He attended Roosevelt High School. By the time he auditioned for and joined Hall & Oates in 1981, Wolk had cracked the studio and jingle scene on the recommendation of Will Lee, and had played on rap’s first gold record, Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks.” As Hall & Oates racked up such Wolk-driven hits as “Maneater,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” “Out of Touch,” “One on One,” and “Family Man,” T-Bone also headed the Saturday Night Live house band, from 1986-1992 with his Hall & Oates bandmate G.E. Smith. Wolk was a multi-instrumentalist and worked with Daryl Hall, Carly Simon, Jellyfish, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Shawn Colvin and Billy Joel over the course of his career. Downtime from Hall & Oates led to tours with Carly Simon and Billy Joel, and endless studio sessions highlighted by four albums with Costello and one with Costello and Burt Bacharach.
In 1991 Wolk co-produced Willie Nile’s Places I Have Never Been on Columbia Records. Wolk also worked with Ryan Leslie on his self-titled debut album. Wolk recorded on bluesman Guy Davis’ albums, Butt Naked Free and Chocolate to the Bone, and appeared with Guy on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” performing, “Waitin’ On the Cards to Fall”. Wolk had a column in the publication Guitar for the Practicing Musician during the 1980s.
A longtime resident of Brattleboro, Vermont, Wolk maintained a steady recording and touring pace, especially in light of Hall & Oates recent reemergence. He also appeared on the latest albums from Simon (his fifth with her) and ex-Yankee/guitarist Bernie Williams. Wolk is survived by his wife, Pam. Will Lee summed up, “The passing of T-Bone is a huge loss to tasteful, spirited, enthusiastic music-making. His positivity, talents, and gentle production techniques were totally unique. I called him ‘Eagle Ears.’ I’ll never forget the first playback I heard of his bass playing. I was bowled over by the tone. It was meticulous and methodical, with equal parts crispness and warmth. He went on to do so many great projects as a guitarist, accordionist, singer, producer and more. His legacy lives on…”
Wolk died on February 27, 2010, from a heart attack. He was 58 years old. Other sources, including the AP Newswire and Hall & Oates manager Jonathan Wolfson, say Wolk died on February 28, 2010, in Pawling, New York.