Thorogood brings hit streak to Arnolds Park

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By Jesse Claeys Journal staff writer

George Thorogood the rocker could have easily been George Thorogood the baseball player.

"I was a pretty decent ballplayer on a semi-pro level, but I got tired of it," Thorogood said during a telephone interview. "I'd go 0-for-whatever and some guy would shout 'Why don't you stick to the guitar?' or something really original like that. I quit while I was behind."

It was in the '70s when Thorogood turned away from his semi-pro baseball career and toward a music career that is now in its 33rd year.

But everything seems to eventually come full circle.

The last time Thorogood was in the studio was to help ESPN baseball guru Peter Gammons record a track for his debut album, "Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old." Growing old is something that seems to be on the mind of Thorogood, now 55.

"I think the part of the band's life where we do songs that get radio and MTV play has kind of run its course, which is OK with me. If you came up to me and said, 'You never have to record another album as long as you live you can fly on your catalogue,' I would do it."

After all, it's hard to compete with the George Thorogood and the Destroyers' catalogue of work that includes hits like "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," "I Drink Alone," "Bad to the Bone" and "Move It On Over."

It was the 1975 radio hit penned by John Lee Hooker, "One Bourbon," that launched Thorogood's career.

Then the band scored a home run with their 1978 version of Hank William's "Move It On Over." "Bad To The Bone" hit the charts in 1982. Thorogood credits the band's success to being at the right place at the right time.

"This band caught MTV in its infancy. We put 'Bad To The Bone,' 'I Drink Alone' and 'You Talk To Much' on MTV. We got a big run out of that. Just after MTV sold out to a corporation and their format got a little tighter, something arose called classic rock radio. We got in on the embryo of that. When you put all those things together, there's always been something that has come along that has kept us going.

"Plus, it is undeniable that I am incredibly charming and irresistibly sexy. Throw that into the equation and we can't miss."

Thorogood remained on a roll well into the 1990s before things started to level off. Hits kept coming -- such as "If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)" and "Get A Haircut" -- but then things slowed until 2003, when Thorogood reached his 30th anniversary of gigging with the Destroyers and released an anthology album.

Today, two of the original Destroyers remain. Veterans Jeff Simon on drums and Billy Blough on bass are now joined by guitarist Jim Suhler and sax player Buddy Leach. The new Destroyers are guitarist Jim Suhler and sax player Buddy Leach.

As for the recording future of the group, Thorogood said he plans to release an acoustic album and possibly two live albums. There's always touring, something Thorogood enjoys enough to play hundreds of gigs a year.

"If you can't play in a rock n' roll band everyday, you've got problems," Thorogood said with a laugh. "Just look how many games Cal Ripken played. If you love it, it's easy."

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