Ozzy Osbourne has paid tribute to his onetime guitarist Bernie Tormé, calling him "a gentle soul with a heart of gold."
Tormé is known for stepping in and saving the day for Ozzy when Randy Rhoads tragically died in 1982. Bernie played seven shows with Osbourne over a 10-day period before leaving Ozzy's band, only to be replaced by NIGHT RANGER guitarist Brad Gillis.
Tormé passed away on Sunday, March 17 at the age of 66. He died one day short of his 67th birthday, surrounded by his family. He had been on life support for the past four weeks at a London hospital following post-flu complications.
Earlier today, Ozzy took to his social media to write: "What a sad day. We've lost another great musician. Bernie was a gentle soul with a heart of gold. He will be dearly missed. I send my sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans. Rest in Peace Bernie."
Tormé was hospitalized last month with double pneumonia.
It was reported at the time that that the Irish musician was "extremely ill" and that he had been placed on a ventilator.
Ozzy and Bernie hadn't seen each other since the early '80s (after Bernie left the band) before reconnecting last summer at the Sweden Rock Festival. Tormé also toured the world as the lead axeman in GILLAN and formed DESPERADO with TWISTED SISTER frontman Dee Snider and ex-IRON MAIDEN drummer Clive Burr, as well as fronting his own bands ELECTRIC GYPSIES and TORME (featuring Phil Lewis of L.A. GUNS/GIRL fame).
A young Zakk Wylde witnessed Bernie playing with Ozzy at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the one of the very few dates Bernie did with Ozzy. Zakk called Bernie "his hero" and insisted on a selfie when they met at Sweden Rock.
Ozzy told Rolling Stone about meeting up with Bernie at Sweden Rock: "I haven't seen him for a fucking thousand years. Someone told me he was outside my dressing room. I went, 'No.' He said, 'I'll never forget the time I played with you, Ozzy. It was a lot of fun.' I couldn't remember what he looks like. It had been that long."
Last November, Tormé released a double album called "Shadowland". Recorded at Barnroom Studios, the disc was the first release from Bernie's new trio. The album also featured a guest appearance from Bernie's former GILLAN bandmate Colin Towns.
Tormé recorded over 24 albums in his career to date as a solo artist or bandmember.