Bernie Tormé began his career as a guitarist in a local Dublin band called The Urge in the early 1970s. He then moved to London, and performed and produced rock music ranging from early punk to heavy metal.
Tormé is probably best known for his stint with Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan’s solo band, and a handful of gigs with Ozzy Osbourne immediately after Randy Rhoads’ death. However, it’s Tormé’s solo work (under various monikers) that deserves more of the recognition.
Tormé managed his own record label, Retrowrek Records, and recording studios, Barnroom Studios, in Kent, England in the later years of his life.
Tormé passed away on March 17, 2019.
Here are the 10 albums that changed his life (compiled by editor Patrick Prince).
The Beatles, Beatles For Sale
So many great Beatles albums but this is the one for me, mostly because of those three great songs at the beginning: “No Reply” “I‘m A Loser” and “Baby’s In Black.” Mostly John Lennon though. “Baby’s In Black” was apparently a 50/50 co-write with McCartney. Those songs changed so much subject-wise in popular music: from pop fluff to dark depression and paranoia.
The Rolling Stones, Aftermath
“Out Of Our Heads,” which was just before this and mostly R&B covers, was great too, but “Aftermath” was on a totally different plane and just knocked the ball right out of the park. Quintessentially English (and I mean that as a compliment even though I’m an Irishman!), from the ‘Oi’ at the end of “Mother’s Little Helper” to the tudoresque “Lady Jane,” all of that going on plus the very long “Goin’ Home” jam: that was the first rock jam I ever heard. The concept of the rock/blues jam has led me so pleasantly astray so many times since I’m still trying to find my way home!
The Yardbirds, Roger The Engineer
This for me is about the guitar playing and sound. Jeff Beck’s sound and playing were so different and so new. When this album came out I just lapped it up and learnt all I could. I must be on my third or fourth copy by now! Still learning, but luckily I still do it so badly I’ll always sound like me and not like Jeff, and thereby retain my questionable integrity and identity!
John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, 'The Beano Album'
Really such an iconic album, which had more influence on guitar players on this side of the pond than any other. Stupendous guitar playing and sound — even if Eric was just channeling Freddie King in his own mind, he did it in such an inspired way as to make it new born and with a great band, too. Eric’s solo on “Have You Heard” is just incomparable.
Cream, Wheels of Fire
Again for me this is about the jamming. I loved all the first three Cream albums, I bought them religiously the week they were released, “Fresh Cream,” “Disraeli Gears” and then “Wheels Of Fire.” While the “Wheels” studio LP was OK, though not as good IMO as “Disraeli Gears,” the “Wheels” (Live at the Fillmore) LP with “Crossroads” and “Spoonful” was just ... WOW!
Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced
Chosen for the sound and the songs and the playing. I bought this the day it was released in ’67, having already seen Jimi on Top Of The Pops. He just blew me away. I took this home, played it, and thought it was the ugliest, nastiest sounding record I had ever heard, it gave me a headache! I hated it! It took quite a few days of listening to the grinding, wailing and sonic destruction, to realize it was a thing of pure beauty.
Bob Dylan, Another Side of Bob Dylan
A lot of people I know still don’t get Dylan. But all of that is nonsense. This is true genius. So many great songs, lyrics, melodies, and so what if the guitar playing is sometimes a bit dodgy? It’s the ability to nail you emotionally to the wall, the complete conviction in the performance, just incredible. “Chimes Of Freedom” is probably my all-time favorite recording; it should be the earth’s national anthem.
Iggy Pop, Lust For Life
I had to include an Iggy album, no other reason than it was Iggy! A different approach to how you do an album, and it really worked.
Taste was Rory Gallagher’s first band, and this was so important for me because here was an Irish guy in a great band doing great blues-based music. I got this album again recently and it’s still great. I saw them live in ’68 in Dublin in a club, about six people in the audience, and Rory and the band just did a fantastic energetic emotional set just the same, humbling. I still wish I could be that professional!
Incredible String Band, 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
Back to those heady hippy days when people played instruments made of inflated goatskin with a string on it and sang about clouds! Great album. And again completely different, mixing Celtic, eastern and bluegrass ... world music before there was world music.