Earlier today it was reported that Bernie Tormé had passed away after a long hospital stay for double pneumonia.  A lot of “big” hard rock and metal sites have really been pissing me off lately, from their inability to cop to the fact that the new Mark Morton solo album has aspects of 80s flavored hard rock, not blue rock, the fact that it’s a diverse album, and as a result it is given a low score because it doesn’t sound like a Lamb Of God album, because you know that’s the metal thing to do.  For a genre that was all about breaking the rules, since the turn of the century, it seems that purists keep putting more and more rules on things, kind like the bible.  Another thing that is irking me is the continuously posting that Bernie Tormé was Ozzy’s guitarist.  He was, for 10 whole days, and as a result his contributions, his actual music is being diminished.  He didn’t record a single note for Ozzy, however he did release some great music with Ian Gillan, something most people aren’t mentioning, because it has nothing to do with Deep Purple, or it isn’t the big splash like Ozzy.  He recorded four studio albums with Gillan from 1979 to 1981, Mr. Universe, Glory Road, Future Shock and Double Trouble.  His work with Gillan also appeared on several compilations and live albums.  He also recorded 16 solo albums, one is about to be released (more about that in a second), including two with future L.A. Guns lead singer Phil Lewis.  He also worked with Dee Snider, and Clive Burr in a project called Desperado in the early 90s, and wasn’t released till several years later due to no label wanting to release the material.  I got to interview Dee Snider when the first Widowmaker album came out, it was my first ever interview, and he gushed about Desperado, and seemed very frustrated when discussing not being album to release music from that band.  Thankfully their music saw the light of day with 1996’s Bloodied But Unbowed.

Tormé had huge shoes to fill when he went to play with Gillan, considering he was opening himself up to being compared to Ritchie Blackmore, but charged in head first and didn’t honestly care as he was a fiery performer in this own right.  He didn’t have to do neo-classical shredding to prove what a badass he actually was.

Here is Gillan with Tormé recorded live 1981.

Shortly after this live performance, Sharon Osbourne did come calling looking for a replacement to fill in for Randy Rhoads and help fulfill concert dates, as well as keep Ozzy above ground.  Bernie lasted as mentioned above 10 days with Ozzy before realizing it wouldn’t work.  Should we also call George Lynch, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai, Alex Skolnick or Jerry Cantrell Ozzy’s guitarist?  Vai recorded an entire album, but was re-recorded by Zakk Wylde due to labels and lawyers, Joe Holmes did all of the touring for Ozzmosis, and at least recorded one song, “Walk On Water” from the Beavis And Butthead Experience soundtrack.  So I get Holmes flat out association, but Bernie Tormé? No, I don’t get why people are making it out as if everyone knew he was part of the band.  Let’s be honest, if not for the internet, how many people would know he even played with Ozzy beyond the most hardcore of fans?  What’s next Ozzy bassist Don Costa and his cheese grater?

A few weeks back when issues developed with bands like Queensryche and Last In Line deciding to pull the rug out from under fans’ feet with the whole Pledgemusic fiasco, Bernie, who at the time was in the hospital realized what a dick move this was, and as a result wasn’t going to let shit roll downhill to the fans, like others, he knew those very people were supporting him, and buying tickets to his shows.  Because of this, he didn’t want the fans to have to do all of the dirty work with regards to Pledgemusic, and decided he and his lawyers would instead.  He released the following statement:

“Pledgemusic owe Bernie Torme almost 16,000£ which was due last December on completion of his recent ‘Shadowland’ Pledgemusic campaign.  Bernie has paid for all recordings, merchandise, CDs and all postage costs to honour his fans’ pledges out of his own pocket.  He has as yet been unable to pay his musicians, drummer Mik Gaffney and bass player Simon Morton for their work on the album.  This has been a very stressful situation for Bernie, exacerbated by the lack of communication coming from Pledge and, despite their promises, no sign of coming through with any solution to clear up the mess they have created.”

He was a class act until the end, still fighting for those that have always been behind him all these years.  Rest in peace sir, and thank you for the music.

Article by Victor M. Ruiz of Mars Attacks Radio & Podcast, and Galaxy Of Geeks Podcast.  Connect with him on Twitter:  @vmr907

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5 thoughts on “News: Bernie Tormé Passes Away

    1. Thanks for the honest assessment of Bernie. He WAS a badass guitarist. He stated in an interview that when he jioned Gillan, he wanted to perform like a ‘guitar hero’. I say he
      suceeded big time! Growing up in NJ, I went to record shops that hed UK imports. I was a die hard DP fan, so when Gillan came out, I bought his albums as UK imports. I have been a Bernie Torme fan since 1980ish. I have always considered him a guitar hero of mine.

      1. Jeff:
        Nice write up. I like your connection. Kids today forget how we went to record stores and read rock magazines. I didn’t know of the Scorpions, Uli Roth, until I read about them in relation to Michael Schenker of UFO fame. Bernie kept popping up in Kerrang! And the guys that liked him liked the hard rock guitar music I liked. So, like you, an American with no exposure to Europe I followed the bread crumbs and Bernie was amazing. I rolled the dice, dropped the $$$ and Oh No! man Turn Out the Lights was brilliant. I got emailed back by Bernie in the late 90’s Great guy. Guitar hero indeed.

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