Pat Torpey

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Pat Torpey
Pat Torpey.jpg
Pat Torpey at Festivalna Hall, Sofia. June 2011.
Background information
Born(1953-12-13)December 13, 1953
Cleveland, Ohio, US
DiedFebruary 7, 2018(2018-02-07) (aged 64)
GenresHard rock, progressive rock, pop rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsDrums, percussion, vocals, guitar, bass guitar, keyboards
Years active1980–2018
Associated actsMr. Big, Richie Kotzen, Lanny Cordola, David Lee Roth, The Knack, Impellitteri

Pat Torpey (December 13, 1953 – February 7, 2018) was an American hard rock drummer and singer. Torpey was known as the drummer and backing vocalist for the band Mr. Big. He also played with John Parr, Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant, Montrose, Richie Kotzen and The Knack. Torpey has recorded with Impellitteri and Ted Nugent.

Early years[edit]

Torpey was born in Cleveland on December 13, 1953. He first became interested in drumming as a child after seeing a drummer in a polka band performing at a local picnic.[1]

In high school, Torpey immersed himself in all available music programs, concert, orchestra, marching and stage bands. About his teenage years, he said: "I wanted to play everything percussion, and I convinced my mother to buy me a used drum kit for my thirteenth birthday." His family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he began to hone his skills by playing in various local bands.

Beginnings of his career[edit]

In 1983, Torpey moved to Los Angeles. He recounts the beginning of his career: "I'm a pretty good softball player and joined an entertainment league, and through that, I was able to make some new friends and network my way into a couple of gigs. I became a regular on the American Bandstand and Solid Gold TV shows performing with Ben E. King, Mike + The Mechanics, Melissa Manchester, Bob Geldof, and a few I can't even remember."[attribution needed]

Mrbig pattorpey.jpg

In 1985, Torpey auditioned for the British pop-rock singer John Parr, who at the time had a #1 hit song "St. Elmo's Fire" and had attained the opening slot for Tina Turner on her Private Dancer tour. When that tour ended he became the drummer for Belinda Carlisle on her first solo tour, opening for Robert Palmer.

Torpey further explains: "In 1987, I was doing a television show with Roger Daltrey and Bobby Colomby from Blood, Sweat and Tears approached me and asked me if I was available to do some studio work. Colomby was producing a couple of tracks for The Knack, and their original drummer had just left the band. I loved their music and what great fun for a drummer. They asked me to join the band."[attribution needed]

Mr. Big[edit]

While on tour with the Knack, Torpey was noticed by Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert, who were looking for a drummer for a new band.[2]"I loved playing with The Knack but when Billy approached me I jumped at the chance."

Mr. Big secured a recording contract with Atlantic Records but before the band started work on the first CD Torpey was tapped to play drums with Robert Plant on his Now and Zen tour when Plant's drummer Chris Blackwell was injured.[3] "Led Zeppelin was such a huge influence and the guys in Mr.Big knew what a fantastic opportunity it was and they gave me their blessing. 'Communication Breakdown' every night, what a rush!!!"

In 1992, Mr. Big's international hit song "To Be With You" was no.1 in the U.S. and fifteen other countries and top five in many more. For fourteen years Mr. Big toured the world, headlining as well as opening for Aerosmith, Rush, Bryan Adams, The Scorpions and others, garnering a reputation for their musicianship and live performances.

Solo albums[edit]

Torpey has been noted as an accomplished backing vocalist (with an extensive vocal range) and he often sings cover songs in the Mr. Big show during his encore. Also, he sings songs from The Beatles during his drum solo. Because of Mr. Big's popularity in Japan and Asia, Torpey released two solo albums (as a singer) overseas, Odd Man Out and Y2K in 1998 and 1999.

Instructional videos[edit]

Torpey has two instructional videos, Big Drums (performing several Mr. Big songs with Billy Sheehan) and Rock Groove Drumming, showing his approach to paradiddles, grace notes, heel-toe technique, and very fast triplets and double strokes with feet. Both provide insight into his drum parts on Mr. Big songs ("Addicted to That Rush", "Temperamental", "Mr. Gone", "Take Cover" and "Colorado Bulldog")

Parkinson's disease diagnosis[edit]

He announced on July 25, 2014, that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and would be unable to perform all of his normal drumming duties on the band's 2014–15 world tour in support of the album ...The Stories We Could Tell.

"I've been dealing with Parkinson's symptoms for the past couple of years and only recently received a confirmed diagnosis as symptoms worsened," Torpey said. "I intend to fight the disease with the same intensity and tenacity that I drum and live my life by and will continue recording and performing, as always, to the best of my ability."

Torpey acted as a "drum producer" on Mr. Big's latest album, Defying Gravity, and played percussion on tour, though Matt Starr has taken over lead drummer duties.[4]


Torpey died from complications of Parkinson's disease at the age of 64 on February 7, 2018.[5]


Torpey used Tama drums, Zildjian cymbals, and Promark Sticks. During his time with Mr. Big, he used Tama Artstar drums and can be seen in almost all the photos and videos of his drums. More recently, he had been using Tama Starclassic drums as the Artstar series has been discontinued.

Other projects[edit]

Following Mr. Big's apparent breakup, Torpey had been involved in a myriad of studio projects, live performances at clinics for Tama drums in Japan, Russia, China, Indonesia, Philippines and many other parts of the world.

Torpey played for the reformed version of Montrose, the "new" band stepped for a memorable debut performance at the Los Angeles Key Club on April 29, 2002, in honour of Ozzy Osbourne and Mötley Crüe drummer Randy Castillo.

In 2004, he toured with Richie Kotzen as a drummer for his UK club tour and South American leg; he also played with Billy Sheehan in Johnny Hiland's first self-titled album, Johnny Hiland. Torpey returned to The Knack in the same year.

At the end of 2006, Torpey joined "The Exile Social Club", a band that relives old Rock'n'Roll hits and includes Chuck Wright, from Quiet Riot, Jason Hook, and David Victor.

Reunion of Mr. Big[edit]

In January 2009, Torpey reunited with his old Mr. Big bandmates Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert and Billy Sheehan for a reunion tour.[citation needed] In 2010, they recorded and released the album "What If..." with producer Kevin Shirley.[6] 2011 saw them back together for a world tour supporting the new album.[7]



  • Odd Man Out (1998)
  • Odd Man Out: Y2K (1999)

On other artist's albums[edit]

with Mr. Big[edit]

See: Mr. Big Discography

with Paul Gilbert[edit]

with Niacin[edit]

  • High Bias (1998)

with Velocity[edit]

  • Impact (1998)

with Stream[edit]

with The Knack[edit]

with Richie Kotzen[edit]

with Johnny Hiland[edit]

with Hideki (ex. Siam Shade)[edit]

with Akira Takasaki[edit]

  • Wa (1996)


  1. ^ Osbourne, Martin. "Pat Torpey - Exclusive Interview"., LLC. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Archived from the original on June 1, 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "MR. BIG – Defying 2017 (July 2017) - Features / Interviews @ Metal Forces Magazine".
  5. ^ "Pat Torpey, Mr. Big Drummer, Dies". UltimateClassicRock. February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  6. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Search for setlists: artist:(Mr. Big) tour:(What If... 2011 Tour) -".

External links[edit]