R.I.P. — Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey passes away at age 64
Sad news as Mr. Big drummer Pat Torpey passed away on February 7, 2018 at the age of 64 due to complications with Parkinson’s Disease. Sleaze Roxx previously incorrectly indicated that Torpey passed away at age 58.
ABC PR‘s press release states in part (with slight edits):
“Drummer and founding member of Mr. Big, Pat Torpey, passed away Wednesday, February 7 at the age of 64 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Family, band and management request privacy at this very difficult time. Services are pending.
Mr. Big (Torpey, Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan, and Paul Gilbert) released their ninth original studio album, Defying Gravity, July 21.
Mr. Big, formed in 1988, produced numerous hit songs that ranged across a wide array of rock genres – be it ballads, heavy metal, or blues rock. Their hits included “Alive and Kicking,” “Just Take My Heart” and the chart-topping ballad, “To Be With You” (Billboard Hot 100 #1 single in 15 countries for weeks in 1991, propelling the band the band to huge international success and multi-Platinum record sales).”
Wikipedia states the following in part about Torpey (with slight edits):
Pat Torpey was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 13, 1959. At age 7, he first played the drums. He tells the story: “I was at a family and friends picnic and there was a polka band. I was sitting on a railing behind the drummer and was fascinated at what I saw and heard. I went home and fashioned my own ‘signature’ drum sticks out of a fallen tree branch from our front yard”.
In high school, Torpey immersed himself in all available music programs, concert, orchestra, marching and stage bands. About his teenage years, he says: “I wanted to play everything percussion and I convinced my mother to buy me a used drum-kit for my thirteenth birthday.” Torpey‘s family moved to Phoenix, where he then began honing his skills in local bands, from rock, to funk, to jazz, to pop.
Beginnings of his career
In 1983, Torpey moved to Los Angeles. He recounts the beginning of his career: “I’m a pretty good softball player and joined an entertainment league, and through that I was able to make some new friends and network my way into a couple of gigs. I became a regular on the American Bandstand and Solid Gold TV shows performing with Ben E. King, Mike + The Mechanics, Melissa Manchester, Bob Geldof, and a few I can’t even remember.”
1985, Torpey auditioned for the British pop–rock singer John Parr, who was riding high on his #1 hit “St. Elmo’s Fire” and had landed the opening slot for Tina Turner on her Private Dancer tour. When that tour ended he became the drummer for Belinda Carlisle on her first solo tour, opening for Robert Palmer.
Pat narrates further, “1987, I was doing a television show with Roger Daltrey and Bobby Columby from Blood, Sweat and Tears approached me and asked me if I was available to do some studio work. Columby was producing a couple tracks for The Knack, and their original drummer had just left the band. I loved their music and what great fun for a drummer. They asked me to join the band.”
Playing around Los Angeles with The Knack was the pathway to Mr. Big. Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert were starting a new band and were on the hunt for a drummer. They saw Pat playing with The Knack and were impressed with his energy and style. “I loved playing with The Knack but when Billy approached me I jumped at the chance.”
Mr. Big secured a recording contract with Atlantic Records but before the band started work on the first CD, Torpey was tapped to play drums with Robert Plant on his Now and Zen tour when Plant‘s drummer Chris Blackwell was injured. “Led Zeppelin was such a huge influence and the guys in Mr. Big knew what a fantastic opportunity it was and they gave me their blessing. “Communication Breakdown’ every night, what a rush!!!”
In 1992, Mr. Big‘s international hit song “To Be With You” was no.1 in the U.S. and fifteen other countries and top five in many more. For fourteen years, Mr. Big toured the world, headlining as well as opening for Aerosmith, Rush, Bryan Adams and The Scorpions to name a few, garnering a reputation for their world class musicianship and totally ‘live’ performances…
Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosis
He announced on July 25, 2014 that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and would be unable to perform all of his normal drumming duties on the band’s 2014-15 world tour in support of the album …The Stories We Could Tell.
“I’ve been dealing with Parkinson‘s symptoms for the past couple of years and only recently received a confirmed diagnosis as symptoms worsened,” Torpey said. “I intend to fight the disease with same intensity and tenacity that I drum and live my life by and will continue recording and performing, as always, to the best of my ability.”
Torpey recently acted as a “drum producer” on Mr. Big‘s latest album, Defying Gravity, and still plays percussion on tour, though Matt Starr has taken over lead drummer duties.
Pat Torpey passed from complications of Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 64 on February 7th 2018.”
Mr. Big‘s “Addicted To That Rush” video: