Bernie Torme - G.M.T Print E-mail
Written by Bernie Torme   
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 20:29

Torme_2Having followed Bernie Torme's career avidly as a teenager, but only managing to witness one gig by his Electric Gypsies at Crosskeys Institute way back in 1984, I took my chance at the inaugural Hard Rock Hell festival to finally catch up with something of a legend in my eyes, not only witnessing a blistering G.M.T set front row on the Saturday afternoon of the festival but also finally getting to meet the man himself, along with his brothers in chaos McCoy and Guy later the very same day.


Fast-forward to the here and now and Hard Rock Hell III.  G.M.T are back this December headlining the Festival's opening Thursday night's line up. So what better reason to get back in touch with Bernie and find out exactly what's happening with G.M.T?

But before we got into the main course Bernie gave me this wonderful musical starter for eleven. A true gig from hell if ever there was one, and 'No Laughing In Heaven' now.


There have been a few gigs from hell, but this one sticks in the memory.


Reading-80-advert-350In 1980 Gillan were due to play a festival in Nuremberg, Germany (with Ted Nugent headlining) the day after being special guests at Reading. Sound good? It wasn't!


We had rocked the Reading festival to 30,000 headbangers the previous night; it had been one hell of a show, we had taken no prisoners. Our new album 'Glory Road' had gone straight in at Number three in the UK album charts the previous week, and we had kicked serious ass live and the punters loved it. Offstage at Reading at about 10 pm, time to party! Six hours later at 4 am when McCoy and myself got to the hotel we were still partying, drunk, and having a VERY good time! Ian and Mick never even made it to the hotel.


At 6 am we had to catch a private plane from Luton to Nuremberg to get to Nuremberg in time, Ian and Mick staggered in, looking 'overtired' to say the least, as myself McCoy and Colin Towns waited to go to the plane. The plane turned out to be no Lear Jet, but an ageing prop job that we had just been told was going to take 4 hours to get to Nuremberg. And it had no loo.


The flight, needless to say, was a complete nightmare, hungover, ill, nothing to eat or drink, apart from a few cans of beer that someone had nicked and had to be drunk so we had a few empty receptacles to piss in! 


As we approached the landing strip at Nuremberg airport in a very unstable, bouncy and up and down 'one of our aircraft is missing' fashion, a member of our road crew, who shall be nameless, could no longer contain himself and sprang from his seat and attempted to urinate in a beer can, a bit like trying to piss in a can while skateboarding down the Alps, when the plane bounced, so did he, and health giving golden showers were deposited on all before him. "Sorry mate", followed by another bounce and more showers. Luckily, I was behind him, Ian and his girlfriend were not so lucky.


TormeMcoyShortly after landing in Nuremberg we found ourselves backstage at the festival. One small but crucial detail I may have omitted to point out before now was that all our gear was still in England: there was no way to get it across in time, so we had hired "identical gear" to be there for us in Nuremberg.   Identical gear? Not half mate! There was indeed a drum kit of sorts, but there wasn't much else: McCoy's gear was usually two Marshall 200W Majors and 4 4X15's, with a Marshall lead amp and two 4X12's for the top end grind: the identical gear? Equalled 1 clapped out Fender Bassman! Colin had been given a Yamaha Organ and a Hammond Leslie, which he couldn't plug in to, and no time to bodge anything up. He did have a monophonic ARP synthesiser that was ok plugged in to a guitar amp, no organ, no piano.


I was pretty OK, I at least had an amp and a couple of 4X12's of sorts.


Five minutes before we go onstage the German press descends on us in force, number three in the UK album charts, we were unwilling momentary press darlings, more pictures taken of us in five minutes than you could believe possible. We do not look happy.


And onstage, "Yes we are proud to present, here they are, number three in the UK, GILLAN!!!!!!" We kick in, McCoy's Bassman farts and blows up on the first note, no keyboards at all, just Mick, Ian and me. I can see Ted Nugent standing down at the sound desk with a look of disbelief on his face. 


McCoy is majorly pissed off. There he is on a stage with 30,000 people looking at him and an amp that doesn't work. What to do? THROW THE AMP INTO THE AUDIENCE! So off it goes, first the amp, then the cab. The bass? He chucks it up in the air where it hangs on the lighting rig for a moment, comes down and snaps in two.... and our next song is 'Sleeping On The Job' - The audience sort of like it, Ted Nugent isn't so sure.




Colin is meanwhile battling against the odds and managing a lot of keyboard on the ARP, fair dues Colin!


But right now the stage monitors just start to howl, not ideal with a hangover, and you can hear absolutely NOTHING else onstage. Ian is convinced that this is the fault of the monitor man, and swings the mike around his head á la Roger Daltrey and fired it at the monitor man. Unfortunately the previous twenty-four hours had taken its toll, he missed his target and hit Colin's ARP synth, which tumbles to the ground and stops working. Colin now has absolutely nothing.


McCoy duly turned his attention to the howling monitors and sidefills; they start to go into the audience one by one, cabinet by cabinet. I join in, subscribing to the ancient philosophy of when you are in a hole, the best thing to do is just keep digging! 



McCoy is now working on the main PA. The place is starting to look like a bombsite. Colin has no keyboards and the next song is 'Mr Universe', which has a long keyboard intro. I break a string just to put the icing on the cake. 


TormeMcCoy is still running around stage like the incredible hungover hulk demolishing PA stacks. Colin is waiting side stage having a cup of tea, nothing much else to do. As Mick, Ian and myself end 'Sleeping On The Job', next song being 'Mr Universe', I think that's it, we can't carry on, how do we do a song that has a two minute keyboard and vocal intro with no keyboards? So I leave the stage and head towards the dressing room, thinking that Ian is going to do the same thing. As I go towards the dressing room that is in a hotel about 400 yards from stage, when I'm about 50 yards from the hotel (so it's quite a while, I've no idea what Ian was doing in the meantime) I hear Ian announce "and the next song is called Mr Universe". I look behind me, about 100 yards behind is McCoy, about 100 yards behind him is Colin, about 100 yards behind him is Mick, Ian is on his own onstage and he hasn't even noticed that everyone has jumped ship! There is a pause, and then we hear from Ian onstage "oh apparently not............" 


What a nightmare!


Next day we rocked the Lorelei festival properly with Saxon's gear, much respect to Saxon.



Yup, much respect to Saxon indeed, and coincidently GMT and Saxon play together again on Saturday 7th November at Music Live 2009 (you can find out more about this event here). 


As for the rest of this fantastic interview, it will be online soon, once this 'Running White Face City Boy' has finished transcribing it. 


In the meantime you can catch up with all things G.M.T here, and buy the bands goodies on Ebay here.