Pat Torpey, drummer and founding member of MR. BIG, passed away Wednesday, February 7 at the age of 64 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. His family, bandmates and management request privacy at this very difficult time. Services are pending.
MR. BIG vocalist Eric Martin called Torpey “the strongest guy I know” in an interview with Total Rock last December. “He’s such a strong personality, very smart, great rock n’ roll drummer, and [Parkinson’s disease] has taken apart his nervous system. Once in a while, he’ll play a few songs with us. Our last tour, he played half the songs, and Matt [Starr] played the other half. On [the most recent European] tour, Matt plays the full drum kit, and then we call it a cocktail kit, but it’s a percussive kit, and he’s to the left of Matt and plays all the percussion and sings all the stuff. Spiritually, [Pat is] our driving force behind the band. Every time he goes, ‘Oh, man, I don’t know if I can do this,’ I don’t know about the rest of the guys, [but] if he bows out, I’m going to bow out with him.”
In a 2017 interview with Rock Rebel magazine, MR. BIG bassist Billy Sheehan spoke about Torpey‘s battle with Parkinson’s disease. He said: “Pat, unfortunately, ran into a bad situation, and as a band, we wanted to make sure that he knew that we were with him 100 percent. It’s a tough thing for everybody, but Pat has demonstrated incredible courage and strength. He’s inspiring to so many people all over the world. I get e-mails from people every day who maybe don’t have the same affliction, but have something similar and Pat inspires them to get out of bed and get going and push back a little bit more. I think that’s a wonderful thing in itself. The American military, the Navy Seals and their motto is ‘No Man Left Behind.’ So for the beginning of this, we adopted their motto to a rock band and [it was] ‘No Man Left Behind’. A lot of bands are out there now and they don’t have all the original members. Sad, sometimes you can’t. People pass on and situations, but we really want it to be Paul, Eric, myself and Pat. Matt is incredible at helping out. I have to mention how awesome he is and how wonderful a job he’s done to do Pat‘s parts the way they should be done. Really wonderful.”
MR. BIG — Torpey, Martin, Sheehan and guitarist Paul Gilbert — released its ninth original studio album, “Defying Gravity”, last July.
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).
Photo credit: William Hames