Bernie Tormé is a rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, record label and recording studio owner.
Tormé was influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, and Gary Moore of Thin Lizzy and formed his own 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. 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), before forming the punk ‘Bernie Tormé Band’ in 1976. The Bernie Tormé Band toured with The Boomtown Rats and Generation X among many others. Tormé has since revealed that he secured the supporting band slot with the Boomtown Rats by agreeing to go around London putting up posters advertising the tour.
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.”
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, and it was as part of this band that Tormé is best known.
Over the next four years the group 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 walked out on Gillan, citing lack of money despite touring the world as his reason. He played as a live session man for Atomic Rooster and then Ozzy Osbourne as the immediate successor of the recently deceased original guitarist Randy Rhoads. Tormé was hired to play on makeup dates resulting from cancelled concerts after Rhoads’ death. After only 7 shows in 10 days, Tormé quit to concentrate on his own band Electric Gypsies and was replaced by Brad Gillis.