TORA TORA is an American hard rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The actual origin of the band name was a reference to the song of the same name recorded by Van Halen on their 1980 release Women and Children First.
TORA TORA started out as a local garage band then eventually got studio time when they won a local Battle of the Bands contest. Following this, the band recorded To Rock To Roll as an independent EP. After its release the songs “Phantom Rider” and “Love’s A Bitch” received extensive airplay on local radio station Rock 98. After signing with A&M Records, they recorded their debut album Surprise! Attack in 1989. This album charted on Billboard’s Top 200 at No. 47 and featured the singles “Walkin’ Shoes” and “Guilty.” The single “Dancing With a Gypsy” was on the soundtrack for the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure later that year.
In 1992, their second album, Wild America, featured singles “Amnesia” and “Faith Healer”, A third album, Revolution Day, was recorded in 1994, but it was never released due to label restructuring. The band went on hiatus.
In 2008, all four original band members reunited to do several performances. One was a sold-out performance at Newby’s, a local club in Memphis, to celebrate their 20th anniversary of receiving their recording contract. After the show, a record was sold to fans which included songs from their first two albums and material slated for their unreleased Revolution Day album. The album was titled The Warehouse… 20 Years Later. The second occurred during Rocklahoma 2008. The band played another reunion show at The New Daisy Theatre on March 7, 2009, in Memphis.
At the end of 2009, TORA signed with the Nashville, Tennessee based FNA Records and released three albums. Before & After, Bombs Away: The Unreleased Surprise Attack Recordings, and Miss B. Haven’: The Unreleased Wild America Recordings.
On February 28, 2011, FNA Records in conjunction with the band decided after 17 years since the completion of their third album, which was shelved indefinitely at the time due to label complications, to release their “lost album” of demo tracks for the Revolution Day project. Anthony Corder stated about the Revolution Day sessions:
“The Revolution Day project was an interesting time for TORA TORA. It was the ’93-’94 era, we were overlapping the last embers of our Wild America dates, rehearsing ideas for the new project, growing from our touring experiences, and experimenting with recording techniques. We relocated our rehearsal space to a warehouse over by the Memphis airport, and tried to stay focused on pre-production. We were pulling together ideas from handheld cassette recorders, scribbled napkins, & 8 track recordings we made on the bus or hotel rooms. I think we were more comfortable with our creative spirits, more confident in our ideas and our approach to songwriting. All of us contributed on the former projects, but everyone was struggling for the third project to keep the TORA identity, and go somewhere new at the same time. We definitely [sic] had moments of anxiety and frustration but it was all well worth it once we locked down the tunes. We were joined by The Memphis Horns as well as Susan Marshall and Stacy Plunk adding back-up vocals on two tracks. The Revolution sessions were some of our most memorable escapades, and had us back at home in Ardent, hanging with Molly’s LaCasita crew, and me personally closing down most Midtown establishments”.
In April 2015, the guys participated in a tribute to their mentors, John Fry and John Hampton from Ardent Studios. In August 2016, the band and the Memphis community came together for a benefit for bass player Patrick Francis who was diagnosed with cancer. The show was taped and DVD released to raise funds for medical bills #ROCKOUTCANCER. With literally a new perspective on life and bassist Francis given an all clear in recovery, TORA headed out to the waves in February 2017 for Monsters of Rock Cruise. Ready to ROCK!