Drummer extraordinaire Bobby Torello, affectionately known as ‘T’ continues to “rock out” at the age of 62. I caught another one of his recent performances with The Jay Willie Blues Band, and was summarily ‘blown away’. With amazing chops, and complete command of the instrument, Bobby is constantly pushing the band to new heights. He has that rare gift of bringing out the very best in his fellow musicians. His enthusiasm for the drums, and passion for music have continued unabated since age twelve. He is a visual and aural wonderment behind the kit, with a potent combination of speed, power, and showmanship.
It’s difficult to believe that Bobby is a self – taught drummer. He learned everything by watching, listening, and practicing...The road and the studio were his teacher and classroom. At age fourteen, in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, Torello was already being recognized as ‘a force to be reckoned with’. Michael Bolton considered Bobby T to be the finest drummer in the state.
In 1972, Bobby’s big break came after re-locating to Laurel, Mississippi, replacing drummer Keith Thibodeaux who had just left ‘David & the Giants’. The group was touring non- stop while Bobby’s reputation kept on growing.
The following year, Bobby T joined ‘Paper Steamboat’. Steamboat was a precursor to the now legendary group, ‘Thunderhead’. At that time, Thunderhead was busy opening for every major southern rock group on the circuit. Numerous big name artists also jammed with them when they were in town. One such legendary notable was Johnny Winter, who was a big fan of Thunderhead. With the help of Johnny and Edgar Winter they were signed to ABC/Dunhill Records in 1974.
Johnny agreed to produce their first album. All was going well until company executives decided the original tracks Johnny Winter had produced needed to be re-recorded. It was not the sound Johnny and Thunderhead had originally envisioned. Although somewhat disappointed with the final product, they did have a hit single with ‘Busted In Georgia’. When their album was released in 1975, ABC/Dunhill gave Thunderhead very little backing. Due to this lack of support, the record achieved only moderate succ
In 1976, Bobby replaced Tommy Aldridge in Black Oak Arkansas. He also began the first of two stints with fellow New Haven native Michael Bolton. At the time, Michael’s career was exploding with two new RCA albums. Bobby was also touring extensively with Johnny Winter opening for Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Ted Nugent, and ZZ Top. He also recorded two albums with Johnny Winter on Blue Sky Records – ‘White, Hot & Blue’ in 1978, and ‘Raisin’ Cain’ in 1980. Bobby also recorded an album with Jefferson Starship’s Grace Slick, 1981’s ‘Welcome to the Wrecking Ball’ on RCA.
When not on tour with Johnny Winter, he kept busy gigging with Michael Bolton, appearing in two MTV music videos - Everybody’s Crazy, and Fool’s Game. The Bolton tour also found Bobby sharing the stage with numerous other celebrities including…Bob Seger, Cyndi Lauper, Electric Light Orchestra, George Thorogood, Robert Palmer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and .38 Special. In 1985, he returned to Black Oak Arkansas. Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, encouraged him to write more originals, leading to the formation of The Bobby T Band in Chicago. Later on he moved to Nashville for a two-year gig with “Tony Stample” and the “Southern Renegades”.
The number of bands and musicians Bobby T has worked with over the years reads like a “Who’s Who” of the music business. With no signs of slowing down, he appears busier than ever before. ‘T’ is presently gigging with four different groups. The Sin Sisters. 8 And Up, Fairly Famous, and the Jay Willie Blues Band. Thunderhead has also recorded a new album entitled ‘Alive Again’ with the title track written by Bobby T Torello.
Bobby’s longevity in a tough business is a testament to his dedication and love for music. Like any professional musician he has had to overcome a few obstacles along the way. None of these have prevented him from achieving his rightful place in drumming history.
Partial Bobby T Torello Discography
1975 - Thunderhead 1976 - Thunderhead – ABC/Dunhill 1978 - White Hot & Blue, Johnny Winter CBS/Blue Sky 1980 - Raisin’ Cain – Johnny Winter, CBS Blue Sky 1981 - Welcome to the Wrecking Ball - Grace Slick , RCA 2004 - Humble Spirits, Sean Chambers, Rockview 2010 - Thunderhead – Live in New Orleans, 20 Miles Music 2014 - The Jay Willie Blues Band – Rumblin’ and Slidin’ - Zoho
Accolades for Bobby Torello
"Bobby Torello is a great drummer. He played a drum solo one night hitting the floor, the mike stand, and everything else he could find… It was really flashy and everyone loved it." - Johnny Winter
"Bobby Torello is rock solid. He has the best meter of any drummer I have ever worked with. Best of all… He’s a super nice guy." - Sean Chambers
“I first saw Bobby Torello perform in the 1970’s with Johnny Winter and was totally impressed by his drumming capabilities. His energy and attitude gave the band an entirely new persona.” - Jay Willie
"Bobby Torello was my first choice "go to" touring drummer. He could easily steal the show with a two - minute solo. Bobby is a beloved musician who has played with an amazing array of internationally known artists. He has tons of talent. And besides that, he’s a big hearted and hilarious guy to hang out with. He rocks hard and steady. Bobby T is no less than awesome." - Michael Bolton
"No other drummer I have ever worked with could even come close to the energy and power that Bobby T demonstrated night after night. His meter is spot on and he has a great ear for the dynamics that our songs required." - Mike "Dagger" Ventimiglia - Thunderhead