Thorogood's drink: Mix humor with blues

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'I am nothing if I am not funny,' guitarist says

Tribune Correspondent

George Thorogood & The Destroyers have been playing their blues-flavored rock 'n' roll for more than three decades, an impressive and rare feat in the world of rock 'n' roll when you consider they've done so with the same core unit of guitarist Thorogood, drummer Jeff Simon and bassist Bill Blough.

When Thorogood started the band in 1973, however, he couldn't have anticipated that they would still be going strong 30 years later.

"I didn't even know if I would be living in 30 years," Thorogood says by telephone in a recent interview that proves time has not diminished his self-confidence or humor.

Thorogood is perhaps best known for his hit singles "Bad to the Bone," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and "I Drink Alone." A couple of his biggest songs -- his versions of Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" and Hank Williams' "Move It on Over" -- almost didn't get recorded, however, and if Thorogood had had his way at the time, they wouldn't have.

"It is not that I didn't like the songs," he says. "I just didn't think there was any reason to record them. We needed four more songs to go on the record. Rounder Records chose 'Who Do You Love?' and Jeff Simon wanted to do 'Move It on Over.' Personally, I thought that 'Who Do You Love?' had been done so many times that there was no need to do it, and 'Move It on Over' really didn't do anything to me. I never saw the big thrill in that. But I was wrong. I was pleasantly surprised when people dug it."

Thorogood is not surprised that his songs are still being played after all this time, and he anticipates that they still will resonate with listeners for years to come.

"People are always going to drink, aren't they?" he says. "I hope that people will always have a sense of humor. Although, it is getting thinner and thinner as years go on. I am nothing if I am not funny. The saying 'bad' is here to stay. If it has lasted this long, there is a good chance that it will last longer."

Thorogood, however, is not as hopeful about the state of blues music today.

"The blues has hit its peak," he says. "It is just about done. There are no blues guys left. All of the original blues guys are gone. I mean, you get guys like me who carry on playing blues tunes, but the original blues masters have all passed on. They will still do blues records and blues documentaries and things like that. They will teach blues in Black History classes and things of that nature. There will always be someone playing it, but, it won't have the big rush that it did, say, 30 years ago, when (John Lee) Hooker was alive. Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Albert Collins, people like that, were still with us. Freddie King, Lightnin' Hopkins, it was still happening. But, it will continue in some form."

Does Thorogood think it likely he could follow his blues heroes, many of whom continued to perform until their deaths, and still be playing the blues in the year 2036?

"How do I see myself 30 years from now?" he says. "You are one hell of an optimist."

Thorogood says he will keep playing "until they stop paying me. As long as I make a decent living at it, there is no reason for me to stop."

There will be no cause for him to retire anytime soon, not with a fan base that has grown over the years.

"We have got them from all ages, from 10 to 110," he says. "I would say that they are pretty much the same as they were before but just a more diverse age. We get a lot of younger people coming to the shows, saying, 'What the hell is this all about, anyway?' "

Currently, Thorogood and the band -- with recent addition guitarist Jim Suhler and saxophone player Buddy Leach -- are working on a new album, a blues project that will be released this spring. In the past, Thorogood has recorded versions of songs from such blues greats as Hooker, Elmore James and Johnny Otis, so it can be assumed there will be cover versions on the new album.

"We don't really do covers," he says. "We do what you would call obscure material. Linda Ronstadt does covers. Rod Stewart does covers."

So, then, what will be on the new CD?

"A lot of covers," Thorogood says, laughing.

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This page contains a single entry by fountainhead published on March 24, 2006 1:29 PM.

Thorogood found right job on his own was the previous entry in this blog.

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