Thoroughly George Thorogood: Blues-rocker is blunt, funny and all about the music

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Posted by Mary Colurso March 16, 2008 5:00 AM

George Thorogood conducts interviews much as he performs in concert -- bluntly and aggressively, with deceptively casual skill and a self-deprecating sense of humor.

George Thorogood returns to Birmingham tonight for a concert at the Alabama Theatre. The "blooze and boogie" musician last performed here in 1999 at Five Points South Music Hall. Ask the veteran blues-rocker a question about his career and he usually responds with a joke, or a snarky quip that seems designed to throw the listener off balance.
Is he nasty? Nice? Or as his famous song says, "Bad to the Bone"? Let's just say no one can take the measure of a man from one 20-minute conversation.

Thorogood, who'll perform tonight in Birmingham, certainly has earned his reputation as a hard-working singer and guitarist. His credits include several radio hits ("Move It On Over," "Who Do You Love," "Get a Haircut," "I Drink Alone," "You Talk Too Much") and more than 30 years of consistent touring.

Q: Do you care about your image as a hard-rocking guy, maybe one who'd break a beer bottle over somebody's head?

A: Who thinks that? I'm a peaceful man. Violence is old-fashioned. You can't get any chicks that way.

Q: Well, do you think rock musicians need a certain attitude, along with musical skills?

A: Sure, I've got an attitude, that I'm the greatest rock 'n' roll player on the planet. People don't step on stage and be humble. The audience doesn't want that. They don't want you to be arrogant, either.

Q: People don't usually think of you as a family man. Does your 9-year-old daughter, Rio, think you're a cool dad?

A: She thinks I'm about the coolest guy she's ever known. She has a shirt that says, "My dad rocks." You can't make your children dig you. It's like a bonus to me that my daughter thinks I'm groovy. I just want her to be healthy.

Q: You've had great success with your cover of Hank Williams' "Move it On Over." Ever think about doing an entire of album of Hank Williams songs?

A: I don't know if that would be appropriate. I may do one more (Hank Williams cover). But I really don't like going to the studio. If I'm going to the studio, it's 100 percent for professional reasons. Eric Clapton did an album of all Robert Johnson stuff; that was personal. I think Hank's songs are too painful. I share pleasure, not pain.

Q: You don't write many songs, but have said you like to cover material written by others, especially obscure blues. How do you know if a song is right for you?

A: I like the funny ones. I like to make 'em laugh and make 'em dance at the same time. Usually, I pick something that's not difficult to sing and has a good piece of humor in it, a tongue-in-cheek machismo. It's like an actor taking the right part. Woody Allen does not make Westerns.

Q: People say you're a big Bob Dylan fan. How do you feel about performing his songs?

A: My style is a little bit rough when it comes to bad Bob. He's the king, as far as I'm concerned. I don't have the right touch. It takes a unique artist to take Dylan's stuff and do it justice. Jimi Hendrix did it with one song ("All Along the Watchtower"). Isn't that enough?

Q: Don't you have a good story about a Dylan encounter backstage?

A: When I met him, I kept calling him "bad Bob." I said, "I have one word; you have many words." I told him, "You are the baddest." And he said, "You're the worst." So I've been dubbed the worst by the best.

Q: Rumor has it that you've been working on an acoustic album. Is that true?

A: I've been working on that since 1971.

Q: You recently had a birthday. How do you feel about being 58?

A: I'm not 58. I'm 28. I've got no time to know how old I am. I'm out there layin' it down. Ask Little Richard how old he is, and he doesn't know. He's too busy being Little Richard, you know?

Q: Before you hang up, can you talk about your memories of playing in Birmingham?

A: All of them good.

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This page contains a single entry by fountainhead published on March 20, 2008 1:45 PM.

A conversation with George Thorogood was the previous entry in this blog.

Stephanie Netherton's In: George Thorogood, Gin Blossoms concerts bring back fond memories is the next entry in this blog.

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