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Gillan guitarist Bernie Tormé (1952-2019) remembered

The Irish guitarist, singer and songwriter Bernie Tormé (born Bernard Tormey) died yesterday, March 17th 2019, a day before he would have turned 67. It was reported last month that he was extremely ill with virulent double pneumonia.

Bernie Tormé

Bernie Tormé live at the Red Lion, Gravesend.

Dublin-born Bernie learned his trade from local heroes such as Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore and Eric Bell before moving to London in 1974 to play with heavy pub rockers Scrapyard, then featuring bass player John McCoy who would later also join up with Tormé in Gillan and G.M.T.

The punk act Bernie Tormé Band was formed 1976, releasing a single, an EP and touring with bands such as The Boomtown Rats and Billy Idol’s Generation X.

 

However, Tormé is probably most remembered for finding success with former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan, whose band Gillan he joined in 1979. Tormé contributed to the albums “Mr. Universe”, “Glory Road” and “Future Shock” (Tormé can also be heard on the live track “If You Believe Me” on 1981’s “Double Trouble”) before being replaced by Janick Gers in 1981, the guitarist of NWOBHM band White Spirit. Gers would of course later play with Fish of Marillion and Bruce Dickinson before being asked to join the latter’s Iron Maiden in 1990.

 

 

Tormé was asked by Jet Records in 1982 to replace the recently deceased Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Tormé flew to L.A. but he only got to play seven shows in ten days before it became apparent that Tormé’s bluesy style did not fit in with Ozzy’s music. Tormé was replaced by Night Ranger’s Brad Gillis as the Diary Of A Madman tour continued. Gillis can be heard on the live album “Speak of the Devil” but was himself soon replaced by Jake E. Lee for Ozzy’s next studio album, 1983’s “Bark at the Moon”.

Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies released two album before Tormé toured and contributed to the 1983 album “Headline News” by legendary psychedelic doom rockers Atomic Rooster.

 

 

A band simply named Tormé released two album featuring Girl/L.A. Guns vocalist Phil Lewis in the late 80’s and another record featuring singer Gary Owen followed in 1993.

 

 

In the 80’s, Tormé also contributed guitar to some recordings by the band Mammoth, then featuring John McCoy in addition to Nicky Moore of Samson, Tiger and Hackensack fame.

 

In 1994, former Gillan drummer Mick Underwood (who first played with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover in Episode Six,  before they joined Deep Purple) joined up with founding Deep Purple member Nick Simper in a project called Quatermass II. John Gustafson and J. Peter Robinson who played with Underwood in the original Quatermass – who released a classic prog rock album back in 1970 – were not involved. Bernie Tormé, however, did play with Quatermass II for a short while along with Don Airey. Mick Underwood’s Glory Road now keeps the legacy alive.

Bernie Tormé continued releasing solo albums under his own name for the rest of his life, the last being last year’s “Shadowland”.

As already mentioned, Tormé also joined up with John McCoy again in 2006, making three studio albums together with drummer Robin Guy as Guy McCoy Tormé, a.k.a. “GMT”. GMT’s full-lenght “Evil Twin” from 2008 also featured Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider on the opening track “Punko Rocco”.

 

 

Tormé had previously played with Dee Snider in the band Desperado, also featuring former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr. Their album “Bloodied, but Unbowed” – featuring a cover of Tom Waits’ “Heart of Saturday Night” in addition to songs by Snider and Tormé – was recorded in 1988 but remained unreleased until 1996. It was also re-issued as “Ace” in 2006.

 

 

 

R.I.P., Bernie! You will be missed.

 

Selected Discography:

Bernie Tormé – The Hunter / Soul (7″) (1977)
Various Artists – Live At The Vortex Vol.1 (2 tracks by Bernie Tormé Band contributed to compilation) (1977)
Bernie Tormé Band – I’m Not Ready (7″) (1978)
Bernie Tormé Band – Bernie Tormé Band (EP) with Phil Spalding and Mark Harrison (1979)
Bernie Tormé – All Day And All Of The Night (7″) (1979)
Gillan – Mr. Universe (1979)
Bernie Tormé – The Beat (7″) (1980)
Gillan – Glory Road (1980)
Gillan – Future Shock (1981)
Gillan – Double Trouble (1981) – only on one track
The Hard – The Hottest Woman In Town (1981)
Bernie Tormé – America (7″) (1982)
Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies – Shoorah Shoorah (2×7″) (1982)
Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies – Turn Out The Lights (1982)
Bernie Tormé – Turn Out The Lights (7″) (1982)
Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies – Electric Gypsies (1983)
Bernie Tormé – I Can’t Control Myself (7″) (1983)
Atomic Rooster – Headline News (1983)
Bernie Tormé – My Baby Loves A Vampire (7″) (1984)
Bernie Tormé – “Live” (1984)
Bernie Tormé – Back With The Boys (1985)
Tormé – Back To Babylon (1986, with Phil Lewis)
Tormé – Die Pretty, Die Young (1987, with Phil Lewis)
Desperado – Demo I + III – Demo (1990)
Bernie Tormé – Are We There Yet? (1991)
René Berg – The Leather, The Loneliness And Your Dark Eyes” (1992)
Tormé – Demolition Ball (1993, with Gary Owen)
Desperado – Bloodied But Unbowed (1996) a.k.a. Ace (2006) – recorded in 1988
Tormé – Official Live Bootleg (1997)
Bernie Tormé – Wild Irish (1997, with Anti-Nowhere League members Chris Jones and John Pearce)
Gillan – The Gillan Tapes Vol. 1 (1997)
Gillan – The Gillan Tapes Vol. 2 (1999)
Bernie Tormé – White Trash Guitar (1999, with Anti-Nowhere League members Chris Jones and John Pearce)
Bernie Tormé Band – Punk Or What (recordings from 1976—1978, unreleased until 1999)
Gillan – The Gillan Tapes Vol. 3 (2000)
Atomic Rooster – Live in Germany 1983 (released 2000)
Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies – Scorched Earth [Live 1999-2000] (2001)
Bernieé Tormé – Live in Sheffield 1983 (2002)
GMT – Cannonball (2006, EP)
GMT – Bitter And Twisted (2006)
GMT – Evil Twin (2008)
Gillan – Triple Trouble (2009) (Recorded live 1981/1982)
GMT – Raw – Live (2011)
Bernie Tormé – Flowers & Dirt (2014)
Bernie Tormé – Blackheart (2015)
Bernie Tormé – Dublin Cowboy (2017)
Bernie Tormé – Shadowland (2018)

Cristoffer Eriksson

Cristoffer Eriksson

Writer

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