I’ll never stop missing him. Think of him everyday. One of a kind. Brother. Uncle. One of my daughter’s first word, “Torsh.”
Mark Tortorici has been a part of my whole LA life–I met just a couple of weeks after moving to town. Our first gig was in Santa Barbara. He had us all meet in North Hollywood at the joint on Bakman so we could ride together. Due to a detour North on the 23 and East on the 118 for some of the best barbecue, I thought it took over five hours to get to Santa Barbara. Everything I’ve been a part of on the LA roots and blues scene started with Torch–because of Torch I became friends with Brent who took me to Deke who introduced me to Duane Eddy–because of Torch I became friends with Marco who introduced me to Kid and then a band with Donny and then in Rick’s band–that’s how it works. We played the Derby and the shows were off the hook. Frank reminded me of my quote. I said it’s about money, music, and the hang. Torch didn’t always have the first, but he always had the latter two–he always brought the fellas together–Hollywood–Vegas–the world. The late night juke joint at VLV lasting until 5:30AM. The Big Jay shows…hell, bringing Big Jay McNeely into our world. Allowing us to know the father of rock and roll saxophone–that was one of Torch’s many gifts to us. Before heading to Cairo to play a week of shows with my group, I was asked to take a vocalist. I took the Torch. We definitely had a thing on stage–we rocked the best together, and he was so accepting of everything (and I was doing my “outside” repertoire over in Cairo)–music, people, life. But before we left I thought, he’s gonna miss that plane. And he did–missed the flight in Paris. The other guys didn’t know Torch so well at the time, and I was heading over from the UK after finishing a run with Duane Eddy. It ended up all good–it just led to another Torch story of him hanging at a club in Paris, crashing at the band house, and arriving in Cairo as all of us were hanging at a restaurant on the Nile–Torch!!! He walks in with his big mug smiling ear to ear hugging everybody with his sweaty mess. His big love will never be replaced.
When Maria and I got married, we had a very small ceremony at the Ventura County Courthouse. Torch arrived a minute before the vows, sliding in laughing. There are pics of us laughing. Five minutes later, he was crying in the back row. I was in Guadalajara, Mexico when Nova was born. As I was talking to Maria on the phone, I got a call from Torch on the phone. “Look, I’m here at the hospital–I’ll take care of everything.” Nova’s third word after “Ma-ma” and “Da-da” was “Torsh.” Our townhome in LA is less than a thousand square feet. LA living. Torch brought Nova a tent and tunnels that equaled approximately 800 square feet. Torch!!!!
He is so deeply missed.
Never again will I get the call…“Hey man, come meet me at Joe’s–we’ve got to discuss this __________ project.” And I go, and I wait as he dances with every girl in the joint until I just leave so I can go to bed. F-ing Torch.
Watching Torch play upright bass with his stinky towel as Brent rolls his eyes.
Torch walking the bar with the harp as people grab their drinks in haste.
Torch flailing about on the ground in convulsions as he finished the tune–pacing about about to fall over–hilarity.
All the nights in the studio–his studio, my studio–recording, working, just hanging.
Torch stopping by at 4AM to pay me for a gig that happened months ago.
Torch asking for some “Yia-Yia” food
He was Brent’s boy, then he kept giving him to me….my boy. Then I was giving him to Frank–we always said that we didn’t want him–he’s your boy. Frank, he’s your boy. But now we all want him back. In reality, he belonged to no one. He was his own original man. And now he’s our boy in our memories.