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Bone Dry

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Bone Dry
Bluesman Thorogood is playing it straight these days - but he's still bad
By ROB WILLIAMS

No need to thank George Thorogood by sending him one bourbon, one scotch and one beer anymore.

Nowadays the Delaware blues-rocker is living the clean life -- although he's still bad to the bone, he insists.

"It's badder than ever. You can't be bad and drunk at the same time. When you're drunk you're just silly, you stink and you have to go to the bathroom," he says.

That's right -- the man who wrote If You Don't Start Drinking I'm Gonna Leave is the one going home early these days.

"I never really had to get out there. I always got to the edge, not over the edge. When the bartender said it's last call I believed him. Now I don't even get to the bar."

You can't really blame him for not wanting to hang at the after-party anymore. Thorogood has been on the road for more than 30 years, so he's slugged back his fair share.

"These days, the party is on the bandstand."

Thorogood and his long-serving band The Destroyers are in the middle of their 30th anniversary tour, playing all the hits that made him a staple on classic-rock radio.

He credits three songs for his longevity: One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer, Bad to the Bone and his cover of Hank Williams' Move it on Over. Even he doesn't get sick of them, he says.

"Lots of those songs are my favourites, that's why I picked them. I only cut songs I have a passion for."

Like many a bluesman before him, most of Thorogood's songs weren't written by him, but by blues icons such as John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and Hound Dog Taylor. The challenge for Thorogood isn't finding good material -- it's finding songs no one has covered before and introducing them to a new audience.

"Bourbon, Scotch and Beer is classic. If I don't do it, someone else is going to do it. The songs made me great. It's not me. It's the songs that made me, I didn't make the songs," he says. "The only people who came up with 100 good songs are The Beatles."

Thorogood's first hit was Bourbon, which received heavy airplay on FM radio when Album Oriented Rock was still a format. When FM radio started changing and MTV was launched, Thorogood got in on the ground floor with the Bad to the Bone clip.

When videos of older rockers fell out of vogue, Thorogood found a home on classic-rock stations that were springing up to fill the void for Baby Boomers.

"Without those things happening, I would have been gone a long time ago," he says frankly. "Now there's the House of Blues clubs and casinos all over the country, so I've got lots of places to play."

Thorogood has released 11 studio efforts, along with a few greatest hits packages and live albums. If he could go back, he wouldn't do it all over again, he says.

"I ended up doing a couple albums with only two good songs and the rest are OK. I don't want to get into that trap again."

His last hit was 1993's Get a Haircut, with its singalong chorus, "Get a haircut and get a real job."

Thorogood's got the haircut -- but if he had to get a real job he would like to be an actor. Not a marquee star or anything; just a character player.

"I just want to be in movie. I want to go into a bar with Denis Leary and be the first one who gets shot. That's what I want to do."

No offers have come in yet, so Thorogood will stick to his day job. He'll be rocking the house tonight at MTS Centre. Saskatoon blues prodigy Kyle Riabko opens. Tickets are $37.50 at Ticketmaster.