Bernie Tormé has played guitar for Gillan, Ozzy Osbourne, Atomic Rooster and Dee Snider's Desperado, as well as fronting his own line-ups Electric Gypsies and Tormé.For more on Bernie, including biography, discography and media clips, check out his official website: The Bernie Tormé Home Page
9/27/01 This interview features questions submitted by members of the Dinosaur Rock Guitar Forum. The interview was conducted by "Axe."
Question: For those unfamiliar with your work, what album would you consider the best introduction to you as a player? What do you consider your best recorded work?
Bernie: Thats a difficult one, I've never really been very happy with anything I've done. Probably the new live album (Scorched Earth) which is coming out November 5th, I think that's pretty much the closest to how I imagine I play! That may be good or bad. I find it very difficult to see the things I've done objectively, it's very personal and tends to come down to what I like, which may not be that representative. I liked Gillan live at the BBC, and the Live album I did in 83-84. Not that mad about any of the studio ones, though some of White Trash Guitar I still like, and Mr. Universe (Gillan) too. And some of Desperado. But on balance Scorched Earth in terms of playing and sounds I think. Maybe the Desperado.
Question: Is your 1960's white (battered) Strat totally stock or have you made any modifications?
Bernie: Totally stock other than the tremmy arm, which is a bit longer and straighter. Most of it is not now original, having had bridges, bridge nuts and machine heads replaced over the years, but always replaced with Fender standard parts. It got broken at an infamous Gillan group of gigs in Germany in 80 or 81, I got a severe attack of the the Pete Townshends, and forgot I was playing my favourite guitar and trashed it. The headstock broke and the body split in two places. My roady at the time, Cliff (top man), picked up all the bits and had it repaired. You wouldn't have known afterwards, I'm forever in his debt.
Question: For your Wild Irish UK tour the flyer contained what looked like a Plexi head, is this your current amp?
Bernie: Its not actually Plexi. Its from 69, which was the later model Superlead. I've always used it. A lot of people change amps, and I've tried other amps but never really been as happy with the sound. I've never really sought the perfect sound, just a workable sound with identity. I like sounding like me! I have one other from the same period which was owned by Alex Harvey. It sounds equally beautiful. Though I must say I also liked the recent Marshall JCM2000(?) I think.
Question: Are you still in contact with Ian Gillan?
Bernie: Last time I spoke with Ian was around 90 or 91, he wanted to write and record some songs. As is often the way with these things, it came to nothing. I've had no contact since.
Question: How did you feel being the first replacment for Randy Rhoads after his untimely death?
Bernie: Weird. Not happy. It was just such a terrible thing to step into. But very honored. I'd have loved to have played with Ozzy and that band at any other time, but then was not a good time to do it. Really if they could have stopped and regrouped it would have best for all concerned I think. They couldn't do that, so I appeared, but neither I or anyone else really wanted me to be there at that time.
Bernie Tormé onstage with Ozzy
Question: Did you ever discuss writing material with Ozzy?
Bernie: Yes we did briefly on the bus.
Question: Did Ozzy give you any kind of freedom to play Randy's parts, or did he insist you duplicate Randy's playing as much as possible?
Bernie: They were under a lot of pressure, and very paranoid that what they had worked so hard for was going to fall apart. So they wanted me to play, and look identical. It was pretty silly, and I hated it, but it was very understandable in retrospect. Obviously, I neither had the time the desire or the ability to do anything other than get close to Randy's parts, so that only happened in part. I also wanted to put as much of me in as possible, I felt it would be a total insult to Randy to replace him and not have anybody notice. He was special. So it was a bit of a battle.
Question: Are there any live recordings of you and Ozzy available?
Bernie: There's boots, but they're pretty poor quality.
Question: Do you recall your amplification rig and settings from those gigs with Ozzy?
Bernie: I had three or four double stacks, Marshall Superleads all on 10 apart from the Presence on about 5. First I had them at the back in the portcullis, and I couldn't hear them at all. At the time stage monitoring was not as good as now. The stage was huge, Oz was in the middle, and he wanted to hear his voice and snare, so that was what was in the sidefills, and it was deafening, crazy loud at my side, first gig I didn't hear hardly a note played. Probably a blessing. Then the crew told me that Randy had the same problem and had put all his gear side of stage pointing directly at his left ear. I did that from then on, if i needed to hear me I just moved to my left. I used my muff and pedals obviously too.
Question: The photos I've seen of you onstage with Osbourne always have you with a Strat. Isn't it a fact that he dislikes Fender guitars? Did he try to get you to switch to a humbucking-equipped axe?
Bernie: He hates Fenders. He really wanted me to change, but its what I'm used to. I had a lot of sound problems on that tour, the amps didn't sound right at all, too thin and scratchy. It was probably the fact that there was no voltage regulator, and the lights etc were drawing massive amounts of power. Superleads don't like that, especially old ones, and I've always found it a problem when they are not running at 240volts without a voltage regulator.
Question: I wish to hell you'd tour the U.S. and stop by St. Louis, Missouri or Little Rock, Arkansas. Not only do I want to see you play, but I'll buy you a beer, too! Any chance of you crossing the pond soon?
Bernie: Not much chance since I don't have a U.S. record company at the moment, I'd love to, but, hey it isn't Limp Bizkit! Hope thats ok, cheers, Bernie.
Pictures courtesy of The Bernie Tormé Home Page .
We at Dinosaur Rock Guitar would like to thank Bernie Tormé for taking the time to answer our questions. Copyright ©2001 All rights reserved