Bernie Tormé

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Bernie Tormé
Birth nameBernard Joseph Tormey
Born(1952-03-18)18 March 1952
Dublin, Ireland
Died17 March 2019(2019-03-17) (aged 66)
GenresHard rock, heavy metal, punk rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Years active1970–2019
Associated actsGuy McCoy Tormé, Ozzy Osbourne, Gillan, Desperado

Bernie Tormé (born Bernard Joseph Tormey; 18 March 1952 – 17 March 2019) was an Irish rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, record label and recording studio owner. Tormé is best known for his work with Gillan, as well as his brief stints with Ozzy Osbourne's backing band and Atomic Rooster.

Early career[edit]

Inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, and Gary Moore, Tormé formed his first band at a young age. His first paid performance came when Don Harris, a 14-year-old drummer he played alongside when he was 17, secured a gig at the local Girl Guides' dance in Kilmainham in Dublin.[1] Tormé then played in Dublin band The Urge in the early 1970s before relocating to London in 1974, where he initially played with heavy rockers Scrapyard, whose bass player, John McCoy would later be re-united with Tormé in Gillan. Inspired by England's burgeoning mid-1970s punk rock scene, Tormé formed the Bernie Tormé Band in 1976. With this group, Tormé toured with successful groups of that period such as The Boomtown Rats and Billy Idol's Generation X, among many others. Tormé later revealed that his band secured the supporting slot with the Boomtown Rats by agreeing to go around London putting up posters advertising the tour.[2]

In 1977 the band were asked to contribute two tracks to the Live At The Vortex album, "Streetfighter" and "Living for Kicks". This led to them being signed to the Jet Records label, who "...paid us forty quid a week each for the next 18 months... Apart from that they just sat on us pretty much, they were more into ELO."[2]

Gillan & Ozzy Osbourne[edit]

Frustrated by a lack of commercial success, Tormé accepted the invitation of former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan in 1979 to join his band Gillan. Over the next four years, Gillan enjoyed three Top Ten UK albums (Mr. Universe, Glory Road, and Future Shock), in addition to extensive worldwide tours of Europe, Japan, and the United States.

In 1981 Tormé left Gillan, citing frustration over a lack of money despite the success the band was seeing. He was replaced by guitarist Janick Gers. He played as a live session man for Atomic Rooster and was hired in March 1982 by Jet Records to replace the recently deceased Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne's band. Tormé flew from England to Los Angeles with the promise that the job was his, even being paid an advance by Jet before leaving England. Though Osbourne had already settled on Robert Sarzo to replace Rhoads, he was forced to abide by the record company's decision and Tormé began rehearsing with the band. After only a handful of shows it became apparent that Tormé's bluesy style was not a good match for Osbourne's brand of heavy metal, and he elected to return to England to continue work on a solo album.[3] He was quickly replaced by Brad Gillis and the tour continued.

Later career[edit]

Beginning in 1982 Tormé led his own band under various names and lineups (including a version of Torme with singer Phil Lewis, formerly of Girl and later with LA Guns).

Tormé spent several years with the band Desperado with former Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider. Although the record saw limited release, Snider re-used a number of the songs for a subsequent project, Widowmaker (not to be confused with the 1970s English band of the same name).

Tormé also played guitar on René Berg's solo album, The Leather, The Loneliness And Your Dark Eyes, released in 1992.

In addition to the continued release of new Tormé recordings and re-issuance of his back catalogue titles, Tormé also became involved with the 'Silver' project, which also included former Michael Schenker Group vocalist Gary Barden.

In 2006, Tormé announced the formation of Guy McCoy Tormé (aka "G.M.T"), with former Gillan bassist John McCoy and drummer Robin Guy. In 2007, Tormé contributed lead guitar and sitar parts to "Smile In Denial", track #4 of Yoni, a solo album from Wildhearts frontman Ginger.

Bernie was preparing[when?] to release his latest album 'Shadowland', featuring drummer Mik Gaffney (The Last Resort) and Sy Morton on bass. The album was due out in November 2018 after which the trio was planning on heading out on Bernie's 'Final Fling' tour starting on November 22.[needs update]

Tormé also ran his own record label, Retrowrek Records, and recording studios, Barnroom Studios in Kent, where he lived with his family.

In 2002 at Barnroom Studios Tormé recorded a live studio album for Middlesex rock band Hurricane Jane. Torme featured himself in the main guitar solo for the title track "Hurricane Jane".

Personal life[edit]

In February 2019, it was reported that Tormé was "extremely ill with virulent double pneumonia".[4] He died on 17 March 2019, a day before he would have turned 67.[5][6] He is survived by his wife Lisa Valder, and their children Jimi, Eric and Tuli, and his sister, Cliodna Murphy [7]



  • Bernie Tormé Band ― Live At The Vortex Vol.1 (2 tracks contributed to compilation) (1977)
  • Bernie Tormé Band ― "I'm Not Ready" (7") (1978)
  • Bernie Tormé Band ― Bernie Tormé Band (EP) "Weekend"/"Secret Service"/"All Night"/"Instant Impact" with Phil Spalding and Mark Harrison (1979)
  • Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies ― Turn Out The Lights (1982) - UK #50[8]
  • Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies ― Electric Gypsies (1983)
  • Tormé - Back To Babylon (1986, With Phil Lewis)
  • Tormé - Die Pretty, Die Young (1987, With Phil Lewis)
  • Tormé - Demolition Ball (1993, With ex-Samson singer Gary Owen)
  • Bernie Tormé - Wild Irish (1997, A project with Anti-Nowhere League members Chris Jones and John Pearce)
  • Bernie Tormé - White Trash Guitar (1999, A project with Anti-Nowhere League members Chris Jones and John Pearce)
  • Bernie Tormé Band ― Punk Or What (recordings from 1976—1978 unreleased until 1999)
  • Bernie Tormé - Flowers & Dirt (2014)
  • Bernie Tormé - Blackheart (2015)
  • Bernie Tormé - Dublin Cowboy (2017)
  • Bernie Tormé - Shadowland (2018)

Live albums[edit]

  • Bernie Tormé – Live (1984)
  • Tormé - Official Live Bootleg (1997)
  • Bernie Tormé And The Electric Gypsies ― Scorched Earth Live 1999-2000 (2001)
  • Bernie Tormé - Live in Sheffield 1983 (2002)

With Gillan[edit]

With Atomic Rooster[edit]

With Desperado[edit]

With René Berg[edit]

  • The Leather, The Loneliness And Your Dark Eyes (1992)

With Silver (band fronted by Gary Barden)[edit]

  • Silver (2001)
  • Dream Machines (2002)
  • Intruder (2003)

With GMT[edit]

  • Cannonball (2006, EP)
  • Bitter And Twisted (2006)
  • Evil Twin (2008)
  • Raw - Live (2011)


  1. ^ "Ten questions with Bernie Tormé", URL accessed on 24 January 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Bernie Tormé interview", URL accessed on 24 January 2007.
  3. ^ Sarzo, Rudy (2017). Off the Rails (third edition). CreateSpace Publishing. ISBN 1-53743-746-1
  4. ^ Colothan, Scott (14 February 2019). "Bernie Tormé extremely ill with virulent double pneumonia". Planet Rock. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  5. ^ Blabbermouth (18 March 2019). "Former GILLAN And OZZY OSBOURNE Guitarist BERNIE TORMÉ Dead At 66". BLABBERMOUTH.NET.
  6. ^ Irwin, Corey (18 March 2019). "Bernie Tormé, former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist, Dies". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  7. ^ eamoc (17 April 2019). "Bernie Tormé obituary: Irish guitarist who toured with Ozzie Osbourne". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 562. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]