Guitarist BERNIE TORME Talks About Playing With OZZY OSBOURNE

The Dio Message Board recently conducted an in-depth interview with ex-GILLAN/OZZY OSBOURNE guitarist Bernie Torme. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:

The Dio Message Board: I noticed you improvised the "Mr. Crowley" solos and the "Flying High Again" one while playing with Ozzy. What was your reason for doing that?

Bernie Torme: "Probably because I was totally lost at that point! I never would have tried to play Randy's [Rhoads] stuff note for note, I didn't see that as my role in life, and I never could have done his solos his way as well as he did, but I did try to preserve the milestones, the notable licks in each solo and link them my own way. But to be honest, to take in that volume of stuff, also stuff of that intricacy, in about five days in a very jet-lagged exhausted state was very difficult: I had not heard any of it beforehand. So when lost I improvised and prayed for rain. It was also quite different to the stuff that I had played on beforehand, a lot of it was stricter classical scales and I had come out of a more punk/blues/psychedelic thing, so the progressions moved in different ways to what I was used to, so initially I was lost quite often. Hence quite a few improvised solos."

The Dio Message Board: If Ozzy asked you to rejoin his band and record his new solo album, set to be released in 2006, what would you say and why?

Bernie Torme: "What a question! To start with I would probably die of shock at being asked so that makes any answer hypothetical. Well first I'd ask why Zakk [Wylde] wasn't doing it, cause in my opinion he's Ozzy's man, and he's astronomical. I honestly couldn't say whether I'd jump at it or whether it would clash with a hard few days of mowing the Torme grass. I couldn't say, it's too hypothetical, I can't really imagine that."

The Dio Message Board: How did you get the gig to replace Randy and how did the fans treat you?

Bernie Torme: "I got phoned by David Arden of Jet Records, Sharon's [Osbourne] brother, in London: I knew David pretty well and Sharon less so since I had been on Jet in '77-'78. They probably phoned me because I had a big reputation as a guitar player in Europe at the time having been in GILLAN with Ian Gillan. We were very successful in the U.K. and pretty big throughout Europe. I initially declined, they talked me into it, I flew to L.A., auditioned with the band and got the gig. I think part of the reason I got it was because I was a quiet Irish guy who really didn't want to be there anyway, I had spent the previous three years of my life on tour, I had marriage problems, the usual stuff. So I wasn't in their faces screaming about how great it would be or was to be in the band: that probably was a good plus, initially, but maybe my lack of enthusiasm for another six months of touring was a problem for both sides a little later on.

"The fans were totally great to me, fantastically nice: I've seen reports about people chanting for Randy, I never heard or was aware of any of that. From my position in the universe it just didn't happen. It should have, but I personally never saw or heard it."

The Dio Message Board: Your replacement in GILLAN was Janick Gers. I think he did a terrible job of trying to replace you. I've heard bootlegs with him playing and he just couldn't play your solos at all and even struggled with some riffs (i.e. "Bite the Bullet"). What are your thoughts on him and how did it feel it to be out of GILLAN when you left?

Bernie Torme: "Janick had a difficult job, he was very into [Ritchie] Blackmore and not really an identifiable player at that stage: I was (and I hope still am) a stylist who lived and died by the fact that good or bad it had to sound like me. I think that was very difficult for Janick to do since he played with WHITE SPIRIT in a way fairly consciously modelled on Blackmore, and when he joined GILLAN, his sound and way of playing and even performing pulled GILLAN very much back towards mainstream MKII PURPLE which sort of lessened the difference of GILLAN, though a lot of people liked that. Whether he could or couldn't play my solos I really don't know, I know on the last tour on more than one or two gigs I was so out of the game I couldn't play them either! So all in all he probably did quite well, and you should hear me trying to play his solos! And believe me, there isn't a guitarist on the planet who could play 'Bite the Bullet' without struggling. That's what happens when the goddam keyboard players write the riffs."

Read the entire interview in the "Don't Talk to Strangers" forum at The Dio Message Board (free registration required).

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