Bernie Tormé, a veteran hard rock guitarist who played with Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan and his own solo bands, died Sunday at the age of 66, according to a statement from his family.
“Bernie Tormé passed away peacefully on the 17th March 2019, one day short of his 67th birthday, surrounded by his family,” the statement reads. “He had been on life support for the past four weeks at a London hospital following post-flu complications. Bernie will be remembered for dedicating his life to his music for five decades. He will be sorely missed.”
Last month Torme’s Twitter account posted that the guitarist was in intensive care with virulent pneumonia; the same post stated that was owed nearly £16,000 by the financially troubled direct-to-fan marketplace PledgeMusic, “which was due last December on completion of his recent ‘Shadowland’ Pledgemusic campaign.” A subsequent post noted that Torme had “paid for all for all recordings, merchandise, CDs and all postage costs to honour his fans’ pledges out of his own pocket. He has as yet been unable to pay his musicians, drummer Mik Gaffney and bass player Simon Morton for their work on the album.”
While he worked for many years with Gillan and on his own solo projects, Irish-born Torme is best known for his brief stint in Osbourne’s band in 1982, immediately after Randy Rhoads — the singer’s key cowriter on his first two solo albums — died in a freak plane crash. While he was only with Osbourne for a few weeks, the singer credited Torme with giving him the inspiration and strength to continue performing. Over the years Torme also performed with Atomic Rooster, Desperado (with former Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider) and GMT.
He completed a tour billed “The Final Fling” in support of the “Shadowland” album in December, although it’s unclear whether the last-tour billing was due to his illness.
A March 3 tweet from the account reads: “On behalf of Bernie: Thank you to everybody for your overwhelming support and continued kind thoughts. We all have to be patient, he is receiving the best possible medical care. Keep those good wishes coming.”