Thorogood found right job on his own

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By GORDON ENGELHARDT
March 23, 2006

Ever the showman on and off the stage, George Thorogood donned a pair of sunglasses before beginning an interview. A telephone interview.

It seems as if he was always destined for some kind of stardom. While his father wanted him to be a comedian, his mother wanted him to be a country singer because she thought, back in 1970 or '71, it would be the next big thing. She was about a decade and a half early.

Instead, Thorogood made his fortune playing hard-edged, booze-soaked, no-frills, blues-influenced rock 'n' roll that's "Bad to the Bone," to borrow from his 1982 staple. Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers will bring their bad selves to The Centre for a concert Saturday. Texas-based rockers Cross Canadian Ragweed will open the show at 8 p.m.

"I liked all music when I was a kid: blues, rock 'n' roll, country and reggae," said Thorogood, known for his rough-hewn vocals, raucous guitar playing and flamboyant stage demeanor. "I don't think I can play (rock 'n' roll) any better or worse. I think it has to do with the songs I picked, the material I introduced to the mainstream."

He cites legendary bluesman John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" as an example.

"I went after that sort of music," Thorogood said. "It's the best music I could play. I pretty much chose this music, not only out of passion but by a process of elimination."

Mining some of our best songwriters, Thorogood recorded definitive versions of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love" and Hank Williams' "Move It on Over." Thorogood said he and the Destroyers originally played "Who Do You Love" at sound checks, never planning to put it on an album.

"The record company (Rounder) said that's what we need to sell records," he said. "I had no intention of putting it out because it had been overdone so many times. "I love his (Diddley's) tremolo sounds. It's very hypnotic. I hear that tremolo and it drives me crazy. To me, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry are both more responsible than anybody in bringing the electric guitar to the forefront. Chuck Berry knocked out the Beatles and Bo Diddley knocked out the Stones. The Beatles and the Stones were two of the biggest rock items to hit the '60s."

Thorogood has a wealth of admiration for Williams' pure country and disdain for what passes as country today: "Pop music with a cowboy hat." Once quoted as saying that it's difficult to write your own songs when you only know three chords, Thorogood is known for his covers. But "Bad to the Bone" is all his. He'd hoped Muddy Waters would record it, but was turned down flat. Diddley didn't have a record label.

"The only reason I did it is because I needed a signature piece," Thorogood said.

He also wanted to be known as more than somebody who was good at playing Chuck Berry tunes. "I had to step up and come up with something. Besides, if I hadn't written it, somebody else would have."

A former semi-pro baseball player, Thorogood found it easier to play guitar than hit a curveball. He prefers the lights of the concert stage, singing "House of Blue Lights," to playing baseball under the lights.

When asked, he said he was still wearing shades at the end of the interview.

"It's showbiz, baby," Thorogood said.

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This page contains a single entry by fountainhead published on March 23, 2006 1:21 PM.

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