Bernie Torme – 20 Questions

He’s a veteran rocker, working in his own name or with the likes of Ian Gillan. We thought he may care to star in one of Pete’s customised question sets and we present his responses. All very BT! Enjoy…

  • A favourite bassline on a dance recording? And why? (track / artist/ source album)

Dance record indeed! With a bassline? For me that would HAVE to be Motown or Stax! So I’ll choose Knock On Wood by Eddie Floyd with the magnificent Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn on bass. I have it on a Stax compilation, I don’t know whether it was ever on an album, originally it was a single. I saw Eddie Floyd a few years back, he was magnificent.

  • Name a great recording including in the title 1/ Red 2/ White 3/ Black (artist / title / source album for each please ) and explain why chosen

Jimi Hendrix, Red House, Are You Experienced/ Cream, White Room, Wheels Of Fire/ Rolling Stones, Paint it Black, single. Why? I bought all of them at the time so they are the first things I thought of! Love them all still.

  • Name a TV series where the theme music was better than the actual shows and do you know who created or recorded it?

Friends! My daughter wouldn’t agree! I’m not even slightly into television, it just bores the ass off me so for me almost any theme music is better than the show! But Friends’ ‘I’ll Be There For You’ by the Rembrandts, great little clangy American pop song, with the immortal line about being ‘always stuck in second gear’. Same about Hannah Montana, ‘Best Of Both Worlds’ is for me the best song Miley Cyrus ever did! Lovely little crass American pop song! Sort of dates me a bit saying that! Grandad….. Twin Peaks was good but so was the series so that won’t work.

  • A recording that makes you laugh ….intentionally or otherwise!

Copacabana by Barry Manilow, you’ve got to laugh, its so cheesy, sort of super cheesy! No I don’t own it, so no idea what album its on.

  • Best rock’n’roll swagger recording NOT by the Rolling Stones (artist / track / source album)

Doh! 1985 (Keeper Of The Flame) by Bernie Torme from BLACKHEART! Well, I think it is anyway!

  • An acoustic gem? Any genre -what song / tune and who by? What’s the appeal?

‘She Moved Through the Bizarre/Blue Raga’ by Davey Graham, which is a beautiful improvisation on the Irish folk song ‘She Moved Through The Fair’. Genius guitar, beautiful too. People witter on about DADGAD tuning, who cares, it’s wonderful, of more interest to those who don’t play guitar than those who do.

  • Best 2nd or follow up album of all time and why? ( I love The Doors ‘Strange Days’)

Strange Days is a killer album. I might have said ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ which I do own, but I will say Led Zeppelin II. Not a big fan really, got the first album the day it was released because I had been a huge Yardbirds fan: didn’t like it much at all to be honest. LZ II was much much better, but I never actually bought it. As I said I’m not a big fan, but what a step up, a different league. In my opinion it should have been Terry Reid and not Robert Plant, it might not have been as successful but I would have preferred it……. Opinions are like assholes etc

  • Suggest an ‘expanded edition’ album release where the additional cuts impress you…and why?

Still haven’t heard one: I think of albums as entities, if you make that artistic choice within the length constraints of the medium at the time I don’t see that it does anything other than destroy the artistic structure of the whole to tag on extra bits: just my opinion; like assholes everyone has one (I mean opinions!).

  • Name an actor or actress who made a listenable song recording – and what’s the appeal?

Doris Day, ‘Deadwood Stage’ from Calamity Jane . From the days of those excellent live American recordings, warm and sweet and oozing milk and honey and…… whips!!! Doris had a great voice. And you’ve got to love the

‘whip crack away’!! Its witty, funny, great performance with humour. Just brilliant.

  • Where are you planning to tour next?

My bedroom. I’m on tour at the moment and I’m knackered. Can’t wait to spend 48 hours snoring. It was easier when I was 20!

  • Which of your own recordings show you at your most a/ aggressive b/ relaxed c/ questioning? Which of these are on your latest album?

No idea. I’ll leave that to the critics, I just do what I do, I have no interest in analysing, I never listen to what I do once its done. More interested in doing the next thing. You are asking me to look down the toilet after I have already flushed it……….

  • Which artist did you go to see perform with low expectations but ended up impressed ? where and when was this?

So many! Rolling Stones at Wembley on the Tattoo You tour! Mind you they made up for it the tour after that, they were awful! The good one was Wembley 81 or 82? Laurie Anderson (Oh Superman!), expected nothing and was awesome. That was The Dominion London sometime in the ‘80’s.

  •  Two tickets suddenly arrive for a live performance, they are for someone you have always wanted to see…….which act or artist ? and which numbers will be hoping to hear?

Nah, I’d give ‘em away. I’ve seen so many disappointing heroes I don’t have anyone I really ‘want to see’ in that sense! Regarding people I would quite be interested to see, I’d like to see Buddy Guy, Ty Segal, Fuzz, Mikal Cronin (who is touring soon, hope to go). No preferences as to songs, just like to hear what they want to do and see how that works. It is difficult having done what I’ve done for so long, I just look for the magic, I don’t want to be handed any preconceptions mixed with nostalgia on a plate. What I’ve heard I know, it’s the live thing I want to hear. Often that’s depressing, no magic at all, so I am wary of expectations.

  • Has a radio DJ anywhere (and any era) ever impressed you and if so why?


  • Your favoured electric and acoustic guitars for live shows and why?

Fender Stratocaster as god intended, Guild Dreadnought acoustic. All I use, works for me, weapons of choice.

  • Name a recording (an album maybe) that really ‘grew’ on you and has ended up as essential listening? What is it about this recording that you value?

So many again. Too many. Most recent is my friend, compadre and ex bandmate Colin Towns BLUE TOUCH PAPER project, ‘Drawing Breath’. Love it. Sounds great, exciting, edgy. But I am terminally fickle, I play stuff lots and then find something else. So don’t get cocky Colin, you too will be eventually cast off like a dirty sock!

Another would be Bonny Prince Billy ‘I See A Darkness’. It’s different. But usually things go in the opposite direction: I go off things.

  • Everytime I get a ‘Best Of…’ of anybody, there’s a song or two missing that I wish had been included….can you think of an instance of this ? what are the missing items that you would like to have seen included?

Rolling Stones, repetitively on compilations, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. Obviously contractual, but why? Has Ringo threatened to not let them wear Skechers?????

  •  Two or three songs with great actual endings (not fades) by The Who or The Kinks? Or both acts!

My Generation, I’m A Boy, I Can See For Miles. Got to be the awesome ‘Oo. The endings might not be great but the songs are! I saw ya!

  • Your favourite song or instrumental (any genre) with the title including the word 1/ ‘One’, 2/ ‘Five’ and ‘Seven’ ? explain your choices

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, by my man John Lee Hooker. Take 5 by Dave Brubeck, genius. 7 and 7 is by Love with Arthur Lee, again total brilliance.

  • Suggest a song that reminds you of your childhood – and why might this be?

Wow, difficult. I think I would have to say Tony Brent ‘Walkin To Missouri’ which was a hit in early ’53 before I was a year old. But I really clearly remember it, obviously from later than that, and I clearly remember begging my dad to go out and look for the sparrow that was walking to Missouri, and pick him up and bring him there! I knew nothing of the atlantic ocean! That piece of music gave me a consciousness of the emotional power of lyrics and music. Made me cry. Never forgotten that.

Pete Sargeant

Bernie Torme will be playing the following live shows in January 2016:

Friday 22nd January 2016 – The Great British Rock and Blues Festival 2016, Skegness, United Kingdom–blues-festival-2016?utm_source=11593&utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=widget&utm_content=227848

Saturday 23rd January 2016 – Fruit, Hull, United Kingdom

For more information visit:

(Thanks Bernie and the lovely Tracy)