Thorogood makes no bones about his signature song

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By WAYNE BLEDSOE, bledsoe@knews.com
April 13, 2007


It doesn't bother George Thorogood one bit that's known to most of the world by one song - "Bad to the Bone."
"One time a writer asked me how it felt to be a one-hit wonder," says Thorogood. "I told him, 'Well, it's better than being a NO-hit wonder!' "

Thorogood laughs, over the cell phone.

Of course, Thorogood was wowing crowds before "Bad to the Bone" became a hit in 1982, but the number became a signature song not only for Thorogood, but for the idea of a tough guy. It now makes regular appearances in movies and television shows.

"What makes it work is that it's a total fantasy," says Thorogood. "Remember James Bond or you see a Clint Eastwood movie? Everybody wants to be that guy. Women say, 'I want to be with that guy!' Even if it's just for an hour. Somebody gets on a motorcycle, and maybe they crash the motorcycle, but for maybe 45 minutes they thought they were that guy."

A native of Delaware, Thorogood and his band the Destroyers (at one time called the Delaware Destroyers) made a name for themselves in the 1970s as one of the hottest bar bands in the game.

Thorogood says he had a plan for success:

"I don't have the voice of Aretha Franklin or Dean Martin or Barbra Streisand. I'm not like Jeff Beck or Carlos Santana where I can just go out there and wow them for two hours with my guitar playing. When I started out, it was when Led Zeppelin was big. Well, nobody could sing like that guy. I had to just do what I can do."

He says his inspirations were John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, because their music was simple and could communicate to a wide audience.

"Then you had the Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Canned Heat and all those guys going strong. I said, 'Well, here's something I can get a piece of before it's too late. I can get a little attention with this slide-guitar thing.'"

The group first made a dent in 1978, with a rocked-up cover of Hank Williams' "Move It on Over."

Thorogood says he wanted a sound that could fit into as many situations as possible.

Thorogood knew he had something special when he wrote "Bad to the Bone," but his first picks to perform the song were legends.

"I wanted Muddy Waters to do it, and he refused," says Thorogood. "Then I wanted Bo Diddley to do it, but he didn't have a recording contract."

That turned out to be lucky for Thorogood. His recording of "Bad to the Bone" was buoyed by a video that received regular airplay on the recently launched MTV.

While he's continued to make new recordings through the years, none have matched the sales of his early material. He finds no shame at all in that.

"Did Johnny Cash or does B.B. King or Eric Clapton need to make another record? For bookings, to play, do they need to make more records? No."

He points out a time when he was recording a new album and a promoter was insistent that Thorogood perform for a festival.

"My manager told him, 'He can't talk about it right now because he's in the studio making a new record.' You know what the guy said? He said, 'Why?'

"Seventy-five to 80 percent of the people who come to my concerts just want to hear stuff off the first two records. I should've just stopped right there!"

He is a little bothered that so many people associate his music with drinking songs.

"We've done 11 studio records, each album has around 10 songs, that's 110 to 115 songs altogether, and only three of those songs have to do with drinking, and only one was written by me," says Thorogood.

He does have goals - acting jobs might be part of that, despite, he says, a lack of "talent or ability."

"I'm in a new movie," he says. "It's directed by Martin Scorsese, written by Elmore Leonard, stars Robert De Niro and Jon Voight. I play a bad guy. It's called 'The Ballad of Lonesome George."

Really?

"No, but I can dream."

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by fountainhead published on April 14, 2007 12:59 AM.

STILL 'BAD' AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: Thorogood and the Destroyers to rock Sundown was the previous entry in this blog.

George Thorogood fortifies itinerary with Bryan Adams dates is the next entry in this blog.

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