Pat Torpey, who was best known as a founding member of Mr. Big, died on Wednesday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 64.
The news of Torpey’s death broke on Thursday afternoon, when Mr. Big announced via Twitter that the veteran drummer, who played on some of the band’s most memorable songs, including the 1992 chart-topper “To Be with You,” had passed away the day before. No funeral arrangements have been announced as of this writing.
“With breaking hearts we tell you that our brother, friend, drummer, and founding member, Pat, passed away Wednesday, February 7 from complications of Parkinson’s disease,” the band wrote.
As recalled by Billboard, Pat Torpey first made his name in the music business as a touring drummer for diverse acts such as Tina Turner, Belinda Carlisle, and the Knack, before he was recruited by guitarist Paul Gilbert and bassist Billy Sheehan. Joining forces with singer Eric Martin, Mr. Big released their self-titled debut album in 1989, but it was only in 1991 when they broke into the mainstream, as their sophomore release, Lean Into It, peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 album charts.
Pat Torpey was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in March 2014, close to four years before his death. About a year after his diagnosis, Torpey related the story of his battle with the disease on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research website, explaining that he first experienced Parkinson’s symptoms in the spring of 2008, as he noticed “strange” movements in his right foot whenever he would play the drums.
“I tried everything to fix the problem: used different pedals, shoes, drumheads, but nothing helped. I was originally diagnosed with essential tremor, until 2014 when my symptoms intensified. I began experiencing waves of fatigue, loss of appetite and eventually had trouble playing just one song, let alone a full two-hour concert.”
According to Torpey, the diagnosis sent him into a “deep depression,” and with Mr. Big working on a new album and preparing for a tour at that time, he asked his bandmates to find someone else to replace him on the drums. However, he was convinced to remain in Mr. Big for the duration of the recording and the tour, which made him feel “lucky to call [his bandmates] friends and brothers.”
In an interview last year with Rock Rebel that was quoted by Blabbermouth, Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan explained how Pat Torpey “ran into a bad situation” and had to be replaced by Matt Starr during those tours where he’d be too ill to perform. While he commended Starr for doing a great job filling in for Torpey, Sheehan stressed that he had always wanted Mr. Big to maintain the classic four-man lineup that had been in place for most of their existence.
“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.”
As noted in a Facebook post from bandmate Eric Martin, Pat Torpey is survived by his wife, Karen, and their son, Patrick Jr.