August 17, 2008

George Thorogood at the Mann: Still bad to the bone

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By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER, Times Music Columnist

It's so easy, bordering on lazy, to play the "Bad to the Bone" angle when doing an article about George Thorogood. Sure, it was a big hit, and to this day is even bigger as part of the pop culture lexicon, appearing on shirts, license plates and as tattoos for guys usually named Bud or Spike.

But there was a moment of confusion when Thorogood confessed to Rock Music Menu from the outset that he was doing "Baaad" this week.

Bad meaning good or bad meaning bad?

"No! It's an expression, 'Bad to the Bone,' I'm doin' bad!" Thorogood howled. "You get it? It's kind of like a moniker, like a thing you do."

Lesson learned. And if anyone is still allowed to reference "Bad to the Bone," it's the man who coined it, or at least is responsible for the enduring popularity of the phrase.

More than three decades in, the Delaware native and his Destroyers are still tearing up the road, hitting the Mann Music Center tonight with Chicago blues master Buddy Guy. "Buddy is such an incredible entertainer and performer. I have to really pick it up a notch, raise the bar a little bit," Thorogood said. "Playing with Buddy Guy is like a combination of B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix put together. Following that every night, you have to give the people something really special, because that's what they came to see: two dynamite live acts."

Guy is one of the few remaining blues legends, with the likes of Robert Lockwood Jr. and Henry Townsend passing in 2006. Hitting closer to home was the June death of Bo Diddley, whose song "Who Do You Love?" Thorogood covered.

He later featured the guitarist in the video for "Bad to the Bone," which lifted its signature riff in part from the Diddley composed "I'm a Man."

"I like all those effects he used when he started," Thorogood said. "He was pretty much ahead of his time, the way Jimi Hendrix blew everybody's mind in 1967; Bo Diddley was doing that in 1953 with the reverb and the tremolo, and flipping all over the stage and playing the guitar between his legs and all that stuff."

"What really got to me when he passed away. ... I loved the guy; we were partners, we were pals and we got along well. Every time I'd see him, if I hadn't see him in awhile, I'd walk in and say, 'Hiya Bo,' and he'd lean back and give me a suspicious look with those big thick glasses and go, 'Are you crazy?!' That's how he greeted me all the time. He was like that -- a lot of laughs, a fun guy."

Thorogood, at 58, is done trying to carry that old-school blues torch, saying he has, "completed the course." "I did my share," he said. "Now I just go out there and play the fan favorites."

It's a shame, because there isn't really anyone left to carry the blues forward. Sure, guys like John Mayer, Jack White and Jonny Lang can play the riffs, but they don't have the musical pedigree.

"Maybe one or two of them have seen John Lee Hooker play because he didn't pass away until 2001, and he was active right up until his death," Thorogood said. "But a lot of the heavy dudes, Muddy Waters, Hound Dog Taylor and Howlin' Wolf, if a kid is 22, you were 3 years old when they died!

It's not your fault, but we have firsthand experience. It's a limited experience, but firsthand experience nonetheless." "They can learn it off the record, but Jeff (Simon, Destroyers' drummer) and I actually played with Muddy Waters. We opened for him and for Howlin' Wolf and met him and saw him perform. We're the last band to do that, 'cause they all passed away right after we got to know them."

And while Thorogood might just be doing the fan favorites live, he's still got some rocking to put down on wax. The word has slipped that next year, he'll be putting out an album of all blues covers, duplicating the feat of his 30-year-old sophomore classic, "Move It On Over." "The world's not ready for my originals," Thorogood laughed. "Only in small doses."

That might be for the best, as rarely has someone been able to take either a blues classic or a an obscure old record and stamp it with bristling swagger and attitude like Lonesome George can.

"I think I grabbed the maybe one or two left that no one is aware of yet, or that didn't appear on an old Yardbirds record," he said. "There probably might be one or two you've heard before, then there will be some you never heard of, and some you'll probably never want to hear again."

One subject unlikely to be covered, literally, is the time-honored drinking song, which Thorogood has been noted as the master of, despite the fact that they make up only three numbers in his catalog.

"I kinda steer away from that," he said. "Unless the song is really good, but even then; I did 'I Drink Alone,' 'If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave),' 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,' which isn't really about drinking, it's about a guy who can't pay his rent."

"I've covered that subject. It was never a dominating idea in my repertoire to begin with; it just happened that way. People will say, 'I got this great song about a real bad guy in a bar,' and I go, 'I think the world has enough songs like that.'"

Posted by fountainhead at 10:29 PM

July 28, 2008

Thorogood's comic cred: Not only can he play a mean guitar, George is funny, too

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By Molly Gilmore | For The Olympian • Published July 24, 2008

Although he's known as a blues singer and guitarist, George Thorogood also is something of a comedian.

"I can't believe it's really me," said Thorogood, who will play Friday at Little Creek Casino near Shelton.

You're funny.

"Funny and sexy never go out of style," he said. "I got one of them covered. Only Suzanne Pleshette had both."

Now you're dating yourself.

"I would never ask myself out on a date," he riffed.

Ba dum bum!

Along with his musical success - his 2004 greatest-hits album was named Billboard's blues record of the year - Thorogood has comic credibility.

"I met Sinbad," he said. "Who knows more about funny than Sinbad? He told me I was funny and he was serious as a heart attack.

"I said, 'I meant for it to be funny. That's what I do,' the guitarist said. "How do you take 'Get a Haircut' seriously? 'I Drink Alone' - that is funny."

There is a certain association between Thorogood and songs about alcohol. But he said it's not deserved.

"How many songs do you think I've sung about drinking?" he asked. "Three. Only three and we've made 125 songs. That's less than 3 percent. Those are the ones America chose as their favorites. I've done love ballads, I've done songs about cars, I've done heartbreak songs. But they don't want to hear that; they want to hear 'One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer,' so I play them that.

"If John Wayne did Shakespeare, no one would come to the theater. They want to see him do Westerns," he said.

Thorogood's fans want more of the same as well. His biography quotes him as saying: "My biggest thrill is when somebody says to a friend, 'I've got George's new CD and it's just like the last one.' "

Critics seem to agree with that. "Thorogood's music was always loud, simple, and direct - his riffs and licks were taken straight out of '50s Chicago blues and rock and roll - but his formulaic approach helped him gain a rather large audience in the '80s, when his albums regularly went gold," Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for All Music Guide.

Such statements don't bother Thorogood, who compares himself to a used-car dealer (and the likes of Bob Dylan to a Rolls Royce dealer).

"If I could play a little bit lousier, I'd have been the king of punk," he said. "They said, 'You play too good to be in a punk band.' I said, 'How about Led Zeppelin?' They said, 'You're not that good.' I was right in between."

Posted by fountainhead at 12:32 AM

Thoroughly Thorogood: Some insights from an old blues rocker

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George Thorogood, scheduled to play a sold-out show at the Tulalip Amphitheatre tonight, may seem like an unlikely purveyor of wisdom.

But during a recent interview with The Herald, the personable rocker most famous for singing "Bad to the Bone" offered insights on life, music and baseball that were hardly boneheaded.

Here are highlights.

On rock 'n' roll: Just to set the record straight, this is where it came from. These are the two guys. Chuck Berry invented rock 'n' roll. Bo Diddley invented rock. Not rock 'n' roll. Rock.

On playing blues rock: Rock isn't anything but blues guitar on steroids.

On retiring: You can't take yourself out of the lineup when you're 30 when you've got guys who are playing that are 38.

On the Northwest: I just think that you've got to get Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii to leave the Union and start its own country, the Great Western Republic. We'd have Whoopi Goldberg as president, and vice president would be Denis Leary. And instead of the White House, it'd be the Gold House.

On former Seattle Mariners and current Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella: Piniella belongs in baseball like Chuck Berry belongs in music. See what I'm saying? Piniella is baseball.

On the advantages of playing rock 'n' roll rather than baseball: (Rock 'n' roll is) the only business in the world where you can make $100 grand a year and be a has-been. Your fame and your fortune and your thing is very fleeting in the baseball world.

On critics: I don't care if you talk bad about me or talk good about me, just don't leave me out of the conversation.

On music: Remember, rock 'n' roll never sleeps. It just passes out.

Posted by fountainhead at 12:28 AM

June 5, 2008

Thorogood honours Bo Diddley's legacy

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Legend shaped rock and roll, rocker says
June 05, 2008 05:00

Knowing his friend was in ailing health, George Thorogood had been thinking about Bo Diddley’s death for some time.

“He was bedridden, right. You are never prepared but you know it is going to happen,” said Thorogood. “I just didn’t think that the state of his body could handle a stroke and a heart attack and be able to bounce back.”

Diddley, a rock ’n’ roll pioneer and guitar-playing inspiration, died of heart failure on Monday at the age of 79. He had been in ill health for a number of months.

“I guess I was as close to him as any person could be,” said Thorogood, who covered Diddley’s song Who Do I Love, and had the legend appear in his Bad To The Bone music video.

“We had a great relationship, let’s put it that way,” added Thorogood on a break from his current Canadian tour with The Destroyers. “We always lead with a Chuck Berry-type song to get the band loose, and we follow with a Bo Diddley song.”

Thorogood said he starts his shows this way because both artists pretty much created rock and roll with their blues backgrounds.

“As great as some lead singers are, and drums and saxes, guitars will always be the number one dude when it comes to rock and roll,” he said.

It is essential to listen to both men, added the musician, if you want to get a grasp on rock and roll and what the music is all about. They represent a lineage that stretches back to some of the best blues musicians of the last century — and continues into rock today.

“Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley got John Lennon and Keith Richards’ attention, who are the two highest profile rock musicians ever, right up there with Hendrix.”

If you don’t take the time to listen to the blues, you’ll never get a real understanding or appreciation of rock, he said.

“It is like an actor who never heard of Tennessee Williams,” he said. “Or a director who says, ‘I don’t know who Cecil B. DeMille is.’”

Posted by fountainhead at 9:50 PM

Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy and George Thorogood Remember Bo Diddley

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According to Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, the influence that Bo Diddley’s records have had is immeasurable, but that’s not the most amazing part of his legacy. “But how heavy is it that a person has a beat named after him?” he asks. Indeed, the “Bo Diddley Beat” has left an indelible mark on the rock landscape, and according to Gibbons it will be immortal. “You can play Bo Diddley for three year olds who can’t speak and yet they start gyrating,” he says. I think we must be wired to respond to it and he just happened to tap into it and deliver it in such a masterful way. And it still works.”

George Thorogood would agree, as one of his biggest hits was a cover of Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.” Thorogood also counted Diddley as a friend. “When I first met him he was kind of standoffish. Once we got going we had a very wonderful relationship,” Thorogood says. “He was very moved by the fact that I was so into his music and I seemed to have a grip on it. I did a concert with him in Australia in 2005, and he played before I did. As he was coming up he stairs I said goodbye to him, he hugged me and grabbed my hand and he whispered, ‘I’m done, George. It’s yours now.’”

Buddy Guy was never close to Diddley, but he was an admirer. “I say he was one of the best guys that ever played the music,” says Guy. “I’m a very religious man and I think we all was put here for a reason. And when Bo came along and came up with that beat he was at the right time at the right place. You gotta give credit where credit is due. He is one that should never be forgotten.”

Posted by fountainhead at 9:47 PM

George Thorogood speaks about Diddley's impact

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Guitarist remembers his friend and influence

Jun 3, 2008
Bo Diddley news, reviews, video and tour dates
Add Bo Diddley to MyNME
George Thorogood remembered Bo Diddley, his friend and influence who died of heart failure today (June 2).

The singer/guitarist, who covered Diddley's 'Who Do You Love' and name-checks him in one of his songs, told NME.COM that he was turned on to Diddley by The Rolling Stones.

“I first heard Bo Diddley in 1966," said Thorogood. "I knew The Rolling Stones were big on this guy and I got a copy of Bo Diddley’s '16 All-Time Greatest Hits' and flipped over it, and played it constantly."

Thorogood said that he still performs his cover of 'Who Do You Love', as well as 'Ride On Josephine', which was heavily influenced by the 'Bo Diddley beat'.

"I first met him in 1979, and as years went on we got closer and closer," he said. "It’s an honour to be associated with his great music. I just had ‘Hand Jive’ on last night. It goes, ’A doctor, a lawyer and an indian chief/They all dig that Diddley beat.’ That says it all.”

Posted by fountainhead at 9:43 PM

Thorogood has earned respect

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Erin Harde , Special to The Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, May 22, 2008

It may surprise George Thorogood fans that the b-b-b-b-bad to the bone singer does not, in fact, appreciate or condone audience members getting completely loaded at his shows.

The self-described "boogie blues master" who, with his band The Destroyers, released such hits as "I Drink Alone" and the perennial barroom favourite "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" says his catalogue has a lot more to offer than just the alcohol-infused radio favourites.

"I don't want to play for a bunch of drunks," says Thorogood.

"It's like writing a book and someone puking during the third chapter and passing out before the book is halfway done. You work for the live stage act and put songs together and want people to see the show."

Over the years, his audiences have become more respectful, particularly the younger generation.

"Every year, it gets more enjoyable because I get older, the band gets better, a lot of people in the audience get younger and look at me different," he says. "It's not just a bunch of roaring drunks just cutting loose and using me as an excuse to get drunk."

Thorogood audiences today are more diverse than 20 years ago. Young people show up with their parents and sometimes grandparents.

"I prefer people under 20 and people over 60 because once they get older, they think 'this could be it -- I'm gonna have a good time tonight.' People under 20 have yet to form an opinion about anything. It's us people in between who are (expletives)," he laughs.

Now 58, Thorogood rightly deserves a little respect. With dozens of albums to his credit, hit songs like "Gear Jammer," "Get A Haircut," "Move It On Over," and "Bad To The Bone" and former tour mates that range from the Rolling Stones to Howlin' Wolf, Thorogood has become a blues rock legend in his own right, though it's just now that Thorogood says The Destroyers are hitting their stride.

"There's much more satisfaction in it. When you're building the house, when you're almost completed, you enjoy putting the final touches on it as opposed to when you get started," he says. "Building any kind of business or any kind of career is painstaking. It has been for me. Things didn't just explode for me like an Elvis Presley. It's been an ongoing process. Some people call it a labour of love, I just call it a labour."

The work has paid off for Thorogood as he continues to see fans fighting for tickets -- the Casino Regina show sold out in less than an hour. Thorogood coyly avoids naming any tunes from the set list.

"I met Joe DiMaggio and he told me one thing. He said 'George, you only owe your fans one thing,' and I said, 'What's that?' and he said, 'Your best.' "

The best of which album or era, Thorogood won't say, but he promises not to disappoint.

"I'm a boogie blues master with a lot of energy who, with all due respect to Dennis Leary, is probably the most obnoxious man in show business, in which I have that field completely to my own," says Thorogood. "I will not disappoint in that fashion. Ever."

Posted by fountainhead at 9:35 PM

March 20, 2008

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.

Posted by fountainhead at 1:45 PM

A conversation with George Thorogood

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Through the years, blues rocker George Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers, have gained a loyal following of like-minded individuals. To whit, folks who like their music simple, witty and, well, rockin'. Thorogood, a minor-league baseball player who devoted himself to music full time in 1970, has cranked out enduring hit songs with titles like "Bad To The Bone," "One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer" and "Move It On Over." describes him as "one of the preeminent jukebox heroes," while reports that "Thorogood's music was always loud, simple and direct - his riffs and licks were taken straight out of '50s Chicago blues and rock & roll - but his formulaic approach helped him gain a rather large audience in the '80s, when his albums regularly went gold."

Thorogood, who performs 8 p.m. Saturday with the Destroyers at Hard Rock Live in Biloxi, spoke recently with the Sun Herald by telephone. The following excerpts of that conversation:

George Thorogood:

"Pete, how's my favorite newspaperman?"


Hey Mr. Thorogood, how you doing?




Bad to the bone, huh? Thank you for taking a few minutes.


"I just saw a really great movie the other day, called 'Deadline U.S.A.' You ever seen it?"


I have not, actually.


"It's one of Bogart's best. Although I don't know him personally, I think Ronnie Howard made a movie, 'The Paper'?"


I know it well.


"And I think he watched this movie 'Deadline U.S.A.' quite a few times. If you ever get the chance, see 'Deadline U.S.A.' with Humphrey Bogart."


I will, because I'm kind of interested in that older stuff. Used to watch a lot with my grandfather.


"Yeah! Great picture, made in the early or mid-'50s. Fantastic piece of work."


That's cool. Thanks for the heads up.


"Yeah, it's heavy."


What would you like to talk about?


"Gee, I'm a very, uh, as long as we stay out of the American League."


What have you been up to lately?


"Well, just minding my own business, Pete."


There you go.


"Well, you know, I've been doing just what I've been doing for the last 30 years. Just try to keep the weight down and the keep the chops up, and stay out of the joint. You know what I'm saying?"


I do.


"Yeah. Trying to stay out of the hospital, stay out of the joint. You know, just trying to keep my head above water. Like most people."


Who did you grow up listening to? Who would you describe as your important musical influences?


"Well, it was one guy from England, and I never got his name straight. Maybe you can help me out. His name was either Mick Richards or Keith Jaggar. Whoever that guy is. I'm talking about 1965, '66, around that time, I was very, very heavy into Bob Dylan. Like the whole rest of the world, I really got turned on by the Beatles. But the Rolling Stones were somebody that offered me hope. Because Dylan represented the truth, the Beatles represented freedom, but the Stones represented hope. Because, well, first of all look at them. I mean, they don't have anybody in the band exactly is going to blow away, you know, Warren Beatty. You know what I'm saying?"




"And as far as their singing goes, well, you know, Mick Jaggar is a very clever rhythm and blues singer. And they were doing covers of very unique, and catchy, blues tunes at the time when I was turned on by them. So I put that in my head and said, 'There's a chance for you. A slim chance, but nevertheless a chance.' When Zeppelin came out, and Jimi Hendrix, I thought my chances were absolutely gone. I just said, 'Well that's it, I'm never going to break the scene.' Then I went to see John Hammond play, and I said, 'There it is. Don't set you sights up so high. Look what he's doing. He's making a living, he's got a record deal, you know, he's doing it.' If you can't hit a home run, bunt. You know what I'm saying?"


You're still in the game.


"Yes, you got it. And I said 'There it is. There it is. Now go to work. Pick up that guitar, play the slide and pick some very funny, rockin' tunes and you'll make it.' I had no doubt then."


Well, that formula seems to have worked well for you, for a long time.


"Well, I've stuck with it. You know what I mean, Pete? I didn't want, you know when I first went to EMI and they said, 'Well, you know, George is just coming in to his thing.' I said, 'No, this is it.' What I did with Rounder on those first two records, that's the real George. The songs that I've written are just, what you call a reflection on that. Some people can't tell our originals from the masters, you know what I'm saying? I wrote in that form, because that's pretty much all I know.

"You know, what's his name? Dennis Leary, a man I really admire, he created a bag and he stuck with it. That's his bag. I said, 'I'm going to catch Dennis Leary, and (we'll) be the two most obnoxious men in show business.' For better or for worse, that's what I'm going to be. And, if I hadn't of done it, I'd have never got the chance to talk to you."


Flattery aside, that's interesting. Because Dennis Leary has kind of had a real resurgence with the show he's on, with huge critical praise ("Rescue Me").


"I'm talking about prior to that."


I know, but what I mean is, in 2005 you were named Billboard Blues Musician of the Year. So both you guys have been doing your thing for a long time, and yet you're both, now, as you were then, getting critical and popular praise. So obviously you guys are doing something right.


"You know, I went to a ball game one time, and Pete Rose came to bat. It was about the 17th year of his career, and he came to the plate and everybody in the park booed him. And then he got a base hit, a meaningless base hit. He didn't break any records. And all of a sudden everybody, me too, just started to stand up and applaud the guy. Then I realized why. I said, 'For 17 years this guy will not quit. He's in your face.' You know what I mean? For better or for worse. You got to hand it to the guy. Even though I didn't really like him, I said you got to give it to him. He's done it his way, and nothing's going to deter him from being Pete Rose. And I admired that. So did everybody in the stadium. It was like, 'We don't like you but we respect you.'


That's almost more important.


"Yeah. And the next time he came up, everybody booed him again. Then he got another hit."


Was it always the blues for you. Or did you dabble, or were tempted, by other forms of music?


"I went after the blues because I knew it was a foundation. Someone comes up to me and says, 'Oh, you stuck to your guns, you stuck to the blues.' I would like nothing more than have the success of Led Zeppelin. I would love nothing more than to have the success of a Jimi Hendrix. But I can't sing like Plant. I can't play like Jimmy Page or Hendrix. I can't write like Tom Petty or Jackson Browne or Joni Mitchell. So I do what I can do...


A true working musician. I guess what you're saying is we can't all be superstars, even if some people would describe you as borderline.


"Like one of these guys who's one of the top leaders in one-base percentage. You never see him at the All-Star Game, he doesn't break any records, but he's in the line-up. He's doing the job, day in and day out, day in and day out. And the promoters don't hire you back because you're a nice guy. They hire you back because you make money. Let's face it, that's what they do. As much as they might like you and say you're great and a nice person and all that, but that's what they do. And years ago I knew I was limited. So that was my strength. See what I'm saying?"


How would you describe your music?


"Loud. It's dirty. It's dirty. That's us."


It works.


"Some people like loud and dirty. You know, some people like that. Some people like champagne, some people like Budweiser."


Or, you know, one shot, one bourbon, one beer.


"Yeah, you know. But it's a quality shot. It's a shot of single barrel Jack Daniels. The guy that discovered ketchup, Heinz Ketchup. Mr. Heinz? He had a saying that I learned at a very early age, and I'll lay it on you, Pete. He said, 'Take something ordinary, and make it the best of something ordinary, and you'll go far.' Hear what I'm saying?"


That's pretty profound, actually.


"That's us, man, in a nutshell."


If the music career hadn't panned out, did you have a safety net. Something else you wanted to do?


"That's why it panned out. I had no safety net, that's why it panned out."


It was that or bust, huh?


"It was that or bust. But I do remember, when I was about 18, I was out of high school and my mother of all people came to me with an ad in the paper that said this, if you can believe this, 'A young man wanted for a job, that has a high school diploma and can talk baseball 24 hours a day.' And my mother and I look at each other, and we say, 'I wonder what would happen if I went down and applied for that job.' And I have fun because whenever I run into Bobby Costas, who's a friend of mine, you know Bob?"


I do.


"I'd say, 'Bob, I can do what you do, but you could never do what I do.'


Where did you grow up?


"Northern Delaware."


And where do you live now?


"Well, I swore under oath with the government not to reveal the whereabouts of my location. You understand?"


I do. Which might render this next question moot. Are you married, kids, anything like that?


"Well, there's certain things that they say, 'Keep your politics, how much money you make and your sex life to yourself. And you won't get in trouble.'


Put like that, how can I argue.


"There you go."


Well, maybe this leads to the answer to those questions, but how did you get the nickname "Lonesome George"?


"There was a cat in our neighborhood. He was a couple of years younger than me, and he had all sorts of girls around him all the time. And I never did. And he'd half tease me and call me that for some reason. I don't know why, he just always had girlfriends, and girls interested in him. He'd have two or three of them, and he'd say, 'Why don't you go over there and be with Lonesome George.' And of course, none of them ever would. And I think to this day, that's probably why I got somewhere in music and he didn't."


That's right. no distractions.



Well it works for a blues musician. Blues music, what do you think is the allure of the blues. It's endured, and appealed to so many people around the world. Why do you think that is?


"Well, I think it's, everybody in the world, Pete, every person that ever walked on the planet has known pain at some time. Am I wrong?"




"But you can't say every person in the world has known joy, at one time. Sadness will always, unfortunately, prevail. There's many, many people in the world that say, 'I know what it's like to be sad. I know what it's like to be hurt. I know what the blues is.' But there's not that many people who can all say, 'I've been happy every day of my life.' Now, you can say I've been happy, considering. But you can't say there hasn't been one time when you were sad about something, you had the blues. That's something everybody's got in common...

.Look at all the great comics in the world. Most of them talk about how miserable their life has been. And everybody laughs. Sam Kennison, Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman, all of them...So the blues is always going to be with us, in some way, shape of form.

"Some things, you know, people would say to me, when I put out a record that had mediocre or conservative distribution, and then say, 'Aren't you worried about that.' And I'd say, 'No, the people that are supposed to hear it will hear it. It will get to the people who need it, or want it.' Some way, shape or form, it'll get there. If it's any good. If it's meant to be."


Do you have hobbies, things that you enjoy doing?


"I have no hobbies. No, my time is limited. I'm only on this planet for a short period of time, and my time goes into my wife, my daughter and my guitar. There's nothing else that means anything else to me... ."


So you get your pleasure from your work.


"That's where I apply them. When I'm not doing that, I'm either in the bathroom or sleeping or running on a treadmill or going to the doctor. If I'm not playing my music, I'm with my wife or my daughter or both. And if I'm not with them, I'm on the road with the band."

Posted by fountainhead at 1:30 PM

March 8, 2008

Thorogood still a heavy hitter

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The guitarist and former baseball player has been rocking the music world for four decades.
The Wichita Eagle
Julio Franco.

Not Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols.

No, rock guitar icon and baseball addict George Thorogood compares himself to Franco, the borderline Hall of Fame player who was still playing ball last season at the age of 48, rather than to the two future baseball Hall of Famers.

"Julio has what you call quiet dignity, perseverance, and he's got respect for people," says Thorogood, who will bring his Destroyers to the Cotillion on Thursday. "Jose Canseco cannot figure why he can't get a job and everybody hires Julio Franco."

He tells a revealing story about Franco:

"Two years ago Julio's playing with Atlanta, he comes up to bat and it's a right-handed pitcher, Bobby Cox bats him cleanup. (For you non-baseball types, the cleanup position is regarded as a team's best hitter.) Here's a guy, 46 years old, batting cleanup.

"He comes through with a single, knocks in two runs and he steals second base," Thorogood says with an exclamation. "And you've got some 23-year-old sitting on the bench complaining that he's got a headache and he doesn't want to play that day."

The analogy makes sense. Thorogood has been rockin' the music world for four decades with tunes such as "Bad to the Bone," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and "I Drink Alone" on two dozen albums, including numerous ones that went gold. And he doesn't cancel concerts because of headaches.

Most of his hits came in the '70s and '80s, but Thorogood's hard-driving music can be heard in most self-respecting bars, on TV, in movies and on classic rock radio.

Thorogood has had to work hard with relentless touring and recording to get to this level and stay there. The former minor-league baseball player offers another baseball analogy.

"Al Kaline, now here's a guy who won the batting title when he was 20. Youngest guy to win the batting title, and he never won another one."

Despite that, Kaline's career was so long and consistently outstanding that he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

"When Kaline went to the Hall of Fame, he gets up to the podium, he takes his hand and he wipes it across his forehead and he says in the microphone, 'Whew, boy, was that tough.' It never was easy for him. He said, 'I never enjoyed a day in the big leagues. I had to scrap for everything,' " Thorogood recalls with obvious empathy.

Thorogood's scrapping has paid off even if his profile isn't as high as a Bruce Springsteen or a Mick Jagger.

"I've had people come up to me who haven't seen me for years, and they look at me and go, 'Are you still playing?' And I go, 'Yeah.' Then they go, 'Oh, where are you playing?' And I'm thinking, I live in Beverly Hills, and I got two BMWs paid for in cash," he says in a disdainful tone.

So when will Thorogood decide to hang up his guitar and leave the game?

"When we'll play a gig and a reviewer comes with his son, and the next day the reviewer will say he told his son: 'Yeah, you should have seen him 15 years ago.'

"I'm gonna call the guy up and say, 'Thank you very much, sir, you just retired the great George Thorogood.' "

But like Julio Franco, that day may not be coming very soon.

Posted by fountainhead at 12:15 AM

December 29, 2007

Celebrities tell us who they'd most like to spend a day with

read celebrity responses here

George's answer: "Living, I'd like to spend one day with Hillary Clinton. Because at one time in her life, she was the most powerful person and I'd like to talk to that person. From the past, the one person I'd like to spend a day with is Jesus Christ, and I'll tell you why. He's arguably the most famous person in history, and as a history buff I'd be interested in meeting him. But I'd also like to say to him, "Take some advice. Keep your religious beliefs to yourself."

Posted by fountainhead at 6:17 AM

September 20, 2007

Just a musician on the road

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When George Thorogood comes to the phone, you don't expect him to be singing. Or, at least not singing "Beautiful Girls," the ubiquitous reggae hit from Sean Kingston.

"I can't get that thing out of my head, man. That's a hit," Thorogood exclaims when his musical choice is jokingly questioned.

It's quickly apparent that Thorogood, the tough-playing blues rocker, is a straight shooter with a deadpan sense of humor.

Now 56, he has built a three-decade career on ferocious barroom stompers, usually layered with fluid slide guitar and his growling rumble of a voice.

"The Hard Stuff," Thorogood's most recent album with his legendary band, The Destroyers, retained his tradition of combining original songs with well-chosen covers -- this time Bob Dylan's "Drifter's Escape" and John Lee Hooker's "Huckle Up Baby."

But those who come to see Thorogood live are usually hankering for the one-two punch of "Bad to the Bone" (the album was released earlier this summer in deluxe anniversary form) and "I Drink Alone."

Calling before a show last week in New England, Thorogood talked about that reissued album and why he and The Destroyers aren't the World's Greatest Bar Band after all.

Your Richmond show is just you, but you've done -- and are doing some more -- dates with Bryan Adams. That's an interesting combo. I know you guys have known each other awhile, but how did the tour come about now?

We met in the'80s but reunited for these dates. But let me set you straight on something first: A rock star goes on tour. A musician goes on the road. This band goes on the road.

OK, so what's it like going on the road with Bryan?

He's such a great writer. The tears always come when I hear "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." What Bryan wants to do is play rock, like Jimi Hendrix.

Bryan's expertise lies in doing very tasteful ballad things. His rock statements are OK, but he outshines himself on his other things.

Are you a road hound or has it gotten tiring over the years, being on the road for months at a time?

I've never been out eight or nine months at a time. I do enjoy it because I balance it. I'm home five or six months, I'll go out for a month, then home three or four weeks.

I enjoy playing new material for new people. The only [artists] who are out there 10 months a year are the people who need the money. I'm a live performer. I make a record so I can perform.

Does it feel like it's been 25 years since "Bad to the Bone"?

Never look back, just keep moving.

What goes through your mind when you're singing that song live for the 10,000th time? Is it more of an obligation, or with it and "I Drink Alone" do you genuinely feed off the audience's excitement?

Both. It is an obligation, because that's what people paid to hear. When you go to see the Stones, don't you expect to hear "Jumpin' Jack Flash"?

I like the song myself, but of course I'm feeding off the audience. If it's a great audience, it's a great show.

How involved were you in the 25th anniversary edition of "Bad to the Bone" that came out this summer?

We rerecorded half the songs on there. The original recordings sounded terrible. We didn't have another guitar player, and the cat recording us didn't know jack about what we were doing. That was far and away not our best record.

They wanted us to rerecord three; I said let's do five. This is the way those songs should have been done. The original ones, they're the outtakes! What you have now is the real deal.

You bill yourself and The Destroyers as the World's Greatest Bar Band, but I think a lot of people might say you're selling yourself short because you're such a good blues player.

No, we're the World's Greatest Live Band.

OK, but all of your logos say Bar Band.

It sells T-shirts.

You've covered everyone from Bob Dylan to Nick Lowe. What are you looking for when it comes time to decide what you're going to cover for an album?

A good song. It's not rocket science. But there's a difference -- Linda Ronstadt and Joe Cocker do covers, I do obscure material. If it weren't for The Beatles, what kind of career would Cocker have?

Once in a while, we'll be stuck on a record and we don't have enough material so I'll write a song, or the record company will press me to do a popular song, like "Hand Jive" or "Johnny B. Goode." It comes back to business.

Richmond is the last date on this leg of the tour. Have any plans for your month off?

Minding my own business! OK, I gotta go. Adios!

Posted by fountainhead at 11:45 PM

June 3, 2006

Destroyers gassed up (yikes, the prices!) and back on the road again

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Asbury Park (N.J.) Press

Its a fair question to put to a musician at this moment: Have you heard Neil Youngs song Lets Impeach the President?

Not yet, but I want to, says George Thorogood, leader of the Destroyers (of Bad to the Bone fame). Im all for the idea, he adds with a laugh.

I dont need to hear the song to put the idea in motion.

Young has said he is criticizing the Bush administration in song because he doesnt believe activism is alive among younger artists.

I dont think people know exactly how to say how they feel about this thing, Thorogood counters. Its a bizarre setup. I think Neils looking at it like: Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? Its hard to figure out. The one thing we do know is that the people will suffer the rewards of the big boys. I mean, look at the gas prices.

Good God almighty! Nobodys going to be able to afford to do anything at this rate.

Not even rock stars are immune, says Thorogood, a Wilmington native.

Its not just hitting me; its hitting people who are going to want to come see me, the musician says.

Theyre not going to have money for a ticket to come see me play. I dont put a high ticket price on our show because I think Im the grand master of entertainment. The ticket price is relevant to the prices of everything. I have to buy gas, too.

Our fans are mostly blue-collar, working-class people. This is going to affect them. Id better be damn good if theyre going to buy a ticket to come see me play. They gotta fill their gas tank; they gotta feed their children. This is serious. This is a big crunch. A hundred dollars to fill up your gas tank? Thats a lot of money. So I really want to hear how Neil is formulating these anxieties into music.

The Destroyers are on the road behind their latest album,
The Hard Stuff (Eagle Records).

If this band has any kind of reputation, Thorogood says, its for putting out stuff that is, well, hard stuff. I mean, were not heavy metal, but were not exactly a folk act. When people mention George Thorogood and the Destroyers, you usually hear, Oh, those cats are heavy. They hit you hard. Thats the imagery of the group, so I think it fits.

The song itself [The Hard Stuff] is about a guy saying, Ive had enough of the hard stuff. I cant take it anymore. But hes his own worst enemy. He is the hard stuff.

On the CD, the Destroyers cover some of their old musical heroes.
Says Thorogood: The Jimmy Reed song, [Little Rain,] Ive been listening to since 1973. Hounddog Taylor has been a huge influence on this band. We opened for Hound-dog, toured with him, before he passed away. We got a Howlin Wolf song on there, a [Bob] Dylan song, John Lee Hooker all the heaviest cats we could come up with. Hence the title.

Its us pretty much cleaning out the garage once and for all.

Posted by fountainhead at 11:51 AM

May 21, 2006

Me and my motors: George Thorogood

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By Maurice Chittenden of The Sunday Times

George Thorogood, 54, got his timing just right when he emerged from Wilmington, Delaware, in the 1970s with a snarl on his face and a punky edge to his music. A relentless tourer, his energetic stage presence and blues-rock guitar sound brought him a big following in America in the 1980s. His greatest hits package, 30 Years of Rock, has spent 90 weeks on the Billboard blues chart, 50 of them at No 1. He and his band, the Destroyers, tour Europe next month

Thorogood's music is considered by many to be the best to drive to but he dislikes cars (Paul Harris/

When John Peel, the nations best-loved DJ, was interviewed for these pages two years ago he was asked what he liked listening to in the car. My favourite driving CD would comprise the first four tracks of an EP by George Thorogood, including a version of Elmore Jamess The Sky Is Crying, said Peel. Wow, says Thorogood, ahead of a European tour that brings him to London, Belfast and Dublin next month. Thats not bad at all. Ill take it.

The late Peel is not the only one to have found the American rockers music the perfect accompaniment to driving on a hot summers night. With his gear-shifting slide guitar and songs infused with the imagery of classic automobiles, Thorogoods take on the blues is always going to be more Jeremy Clarkson than Clarksdale, Mississippi.

But despite building a reputation as the ultimate road dog with such highway-pounding tours as his 50 dates in 50 states assault on American rock venues, Thorogood has a confession: he doesnt like cars that much. Chuck Berry loves cars but I am not that kind of people, he says. I am so chicken that I wear my safety belt to drive-in movies.

Click here to find out more!
Thorogoods career as one of the most electrifying rocknroll performers began almost by accident. In the early 1970s he tried to form a baseball team called the Delaware Destroyers but not enough people turned up. So he formed a rock band instead. His drummer and bass player have been with him ever since. The only change is that the name has been truncated to the Destroyers.

Their first album in 1977 featured the band leaning against a blue Chevrolet milk truck. That was given to us as our tour bus by the grandmother of Jeff (Simon), the drummer, says Thorogood. It was a big break for us. She had come into some money and decided to buy it for us. It lasted quite a few years before we bought something more comfortable: another Chevy.

In those days we didnt have any money and we would take it in turns to sleep in the van. There would be enough money for one of us to get a room but the others slept in the van. It comes with the territory that you have to travel a huge amount. For 50 dates in 50 states we did Hawaii and Alaska first and then flew into Oregon and took to the road, doing a state a day until we had finished. We actually did 51 dates because we played in Baltimore, Maryland, in the afternoon and Washington DC in the evening. A double header.

Nowadays we try to keep the driving to below double figures. Hours that is, not miles. But when you are driving from Milwaukee to Portland, Oregon, there is not much in between except miles and miles of highway. Lets put it this way. If Bob Dylan has a Rolls-Royce dealership, I have a used Chevy dealership. But Im in the business. Thats all I wanted from this thing. A gig, man. And I got a gig.

The hard work has paid off. By 1981 he and the Destroyers were opening for the Rolling Stones. In 1985 they played the American leg of Live Aid. One song, the transmission-trashing Gear Jammer, became a favourite of truck drivers. Another, Bad to the Bone, became a hit with the Nascar car racing crowd and is in demand for commercials for Cadillac and Harley-Davidson. There was even a Nascar called Bad to the Bone.

Thorogood, whose father emigrated to the US with his own parents from Colliers Wood, southwest London, is not the type to have taken it for a spin. I have no affinity for cars, he says. It took me years to buy a car, I didnt get a licence until I was in my twenties. I really didnt like cars. I thought they were death traps and I thought it was a big insurance scam.

I said that until they build a car thats perfect I am not buying one. Thats why I went out and bought a BMW. Its the best car on the road. They are safe and high performance.

I have a daughter (Rio) so I want to play it safe. I am not going to ride around in a piece of junk that will jeopardise her life.

He is now on his second BMW. His wife has had three. Ive got one of those great ones. Its a four-seater but it almost looks like a sports car. Its got a little fin on the top and looks like a shark. My daughter calls it the Black Shark.

Its a great piece of machinery. It will go from 0-90mph in about 1 seconds flat. Its got me out of a lot of jams. There have been lots of times where there could have been an accident but because of the BMW we were able to turn on a dime and get out of the way. The car has actually saved my life. Its a 5 or 7-something series. I got the very first one in the United States about five years ago when it first came off the boat.

Thorogood may exaggerate its performance but clearly its a million miles from the Dynaflow, a 1930s jalopy he sings about on his new album, The Hard Stuff.

Now he is planning his next car purchase for Rio. When my daughter is 16 Im going to buy her one of those two-seater BMWs, the type Pierce Brosnan drove in the James Bond movies. Not that Im going to be speeding in it. Im going to colour it deep purple and not go anywhere but just drive around and piss the neighbours off.

Posted by fountainhead at 11:25 AM

George puts his own spin on the blues

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By Neil McKay
19 May 2006

George Thorogood reckons the blues is something he has a kind of a knack for. He tells Neil McKay his music is just like hamburgers and beer - it will never go out of style

George Thorogood, who makes his debut appearance in Belfast next weekend, views himself as just an ordinary "working class stiff or businessman", doing what he can to make a living.

"Over the years I have had to adapt to certain things. I'm just like any other working class stiff or businessman who has to adapt to what goes on around him," he says.

"If the price of gas goes up then my price has to go up, or if they're not doing concerts in sheds or basketball arenas and going into bars instead, I have to adapt to that.

"I have to adapt to where the business is going. Any successful businessman has to do that, and I'm not unlike the restaurant owner or car dealer or anybody else that has something to sell.

"But there haven't been changes so bad that they've forced me to quit or change the style of music that I play."

Thorogood's style of music is amped up blues and rock'n'roll, but even here there is little room for sentiment.

"What appealed to me about the blues was that it was a very basic form of playing music," he said. "I looked at it as a career move to go into blues, it was something I had a kind of a knack for.

"I'm fond of saying this - The Beatles did what they did, the rest of us play blues. What The Beatles did was so extraordinary and so unique that there was no way in the world that I was ever going to get close to what they did, or what Dylan did, so I said figure out something you can do and go with it.

"You will always get a gig if you are a blues band - OK, maybe it won't be Top Of The Pops or the Ed Sullivan Show, but you'll still work, so that's what I do.

"It's just like if I opened up a restaurant I'd sell hamburgers and cold beer - they'll never go out of style. That's what appealed to me."

Nor does he buy into the widely accepted view that the blues is sad music.

"Most of the blues I listen to is very happy, very up and swinging. The bluesiest guy I ever heard was Hank Williams - I mean his stuff is sad, really sad. He is the blues writer of all time.

"And one of the saddest songs I ever heard, and one of the most beautiful songs, is Yesterday - I mean the guy is sad isn't he?

"A song is going to do one of two things - make you sad or happy - and blues is kind of a broad statement. I listen to certain people and I say, that sounds like rock'n'roll to me, and they go 'no that's the blues cos the guy is black and he's old and he's from Mississippi'. To me that doesn't have anything to do with it.

"Things that Paul Simon has written are very sad and very bluesy. Bridge Over Troubled Water, that's an incredibly great blues song... or Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, what is more bluesy than that?"

Thorogood has an affinity with great songs, and his live set is bursting with old classics given his unique treatment.

"It's funny - people come up to me and say, 'When are you going to put out a new CD?' but then all they want to hear at the shows is the old stuff, so why bother?

"We keep the old tunes in the show as much as possible because they are the songs that we have built our legacy on.

"I always say that I didn't make those songs famous, they made me famous - Move It On Over would have been a hit no matter who did it, same with One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, same with Bad To The Bone.

"If Dean Martin had done I Drink Alone, or Tom Waits had done Bourbon, Scotch and Beer, it would have been a hit - they're good songs you know. Get A Haircut could have been done by The Ramones or Neil Young or Aerosmith, those sort of anti-establishment type bands, and we're fortunate to have six or seven of those in the show, that we can rotate the new stuff around.

"I mean, can you imagine Tom Jones going on stage and not doing It's Not Unusual? It's not going to happen, right?

"I've turned a lot of people on to songs they might never have heard. I took a lot of obscure songs over the years, like Bottom Of The Sea, I'll Change My Style, Ride On Josephine, I'm Wanted ... I mean, I probably would never have heard Little Red Rooster if it wasn't for the Rolling Stones ... so that's what I did.

"I don't look at myself as an ambassador for the blues, I'm an ambassador for songs. I take obscure material and bring it to the public consciousness."

George Thorogood, with support from The Deadstring Brothers, plays Belfast's Spring & Airbrake (switched from Ulster Hall) on Sunday, May 28. Tickets from usual Ticketmaster outlets.

Posted by fountainhead at 11:23 AM

In his inimitable way, Thorogood remains thoroughly good

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By Tracy Rasmussen
Reading Eagle Correspondent

Whatever you do, don't ask George Thorogood to characterize his music.

I'm just a B.S. artist, he said. I learned the very basics of blues, but that was all. I wanted to keep up with Bo Diddley and Clapton and Keith Richards and all those cats. So I had to learn the blues.

But the truth is that Thorogood and the Destroyers, who will be in Reading for a concert Friday at 8 p.m. at the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, are very closely tied to the blues. In fact, after nearly 30 years in the business, the group was named Top Blues Artist by Billboard magazine in 2005, on the strength of the band's compilation album George Thorogood: 30 Years of Rock, which was named the No. 1 blues record in 2005 by the same magazine.

It's easy to see why Thorogood wouldn't want to pigeonhole himself. What he really likes, he said, is good music and the chance to play it.

It's like learning Shakespeare if you're an English major, he said. I had to learn the blues to get started, but I took it from there.

And take it, he did.

The band first played together in the 1970s, at Lane Hall at the University of Delaware, before quickly gaining the stature to open for blues greats Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, among others.

Then, of course, the Rolling Stones needed an opening act, so Thorogood and the Destroyers went on the road, eventually leaving only to complete their own endurance feat by doing the 50/50 tour that took the band to 50 states in 50 days.

That dedication (and craziness), coupled with the band's ability to find hits including One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, Move It on Over, and Bad to the Bone, have kept the band touring for decades.

So far, so good, Thorogood said, adding that his success is as likely due to what he knows he can't do as what he can.

I know that I can't just stand there like Dylan and sing, he said. I can't sing like he does. And I can't entertain the way Willie Nelson does. I'm no Aretha Franklin. But I can move around on stage and I can B.S., so that's what I do.

Thorogood said working stages today isn't that much different than 30 years ago, although he finds that he does need to pay more attention to his physical being, if not his art.

I eat three meals a day and I get eight hours of sleep, he said. I have to.

But he doesn't have to practice.

Practice is hard, he said. I like performing. I like a crowd in front of me.

He ticked off a list of performers who never practiced (Jackie Gleason, Roberto Clemente, Paul Butterfield.)

If I'm going out on tour I might start getting my left hand in shape a couple of weeks before, but I don't practice every day. Randy Newman told me he never practiced, and when he plays his first gig of a tour, everyone can tell, but three days later only he can tell. It's easy for me to get right back in the groove.

He added that you do have to practice when you're young.

When you're in seventh grade, you do have to, he said. You gotta do it, just the same way as you gotta brush your teeth. But by the time you get to my age, you don't have to practice. You just do it.

When Thorogood is performing, he's not thinking about practicing, either. Or much of anything.

I'm thinking about getting through this without anyone getting hurt, he said. I'm thinking about everyone getting their money's worth.

He said he knows his audience is made up of many different types of people, most of whom have plunked down their hard-earned money to hear him. He doesn't want to disappoint.

I think it's my job that for 100 minutes, nothing bad happens, Thorogood said. A good night is when everyone goes home safe and happy.

Toward that end, Thorogood wants to leave his fans with a final musical thought:

Just remember that rock 'n' roll never sleeps, he said. It just passes out.

Posted by fountainhead at 10:53 AM

March 24, 2006

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.

Posted by fountainhead at 1:29 PM

March 23, 2006

Thorogood found right job on his own

view article here

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.

Posted by fountainhead at 1:21 PM

Bad to his funny bone

view interview here

ELKHART -- Trying to get a straight answer from George Thorogood is like trying to get a firm hold on a slippery slope -- it just ain't gonna happen.

And the chief of The Destroyers is the first one to admit it ... with great delight.

Heading to the Elco Theatre for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, he squeezed in a brief phone interview from somewhere out of town.

"Interviews," Thorogood pronounced (he does a lot of pronouncing), "are all the same.'

"Being funny adds a little flavor," he continued. "In interviews, rock stars always say 'I wrote it when in a deep depression or when my dog died.' No one wants to hear about that, so I do what I do.

"I make it fun."

And, in spite of every frustrating, off-the-wall response, it was.

Thorogood came "from a small Eastern state" (correctly identified as Delaware). He also is a history buff, the source of an amazing amount of trivia and a purveyor of long tall tales that seem plausible until, almost at the punch line, it becomes obvious that it is anything but.

It's probably true, however, that he ran away from home in the summer of '68 "with dreams of being a rock star."

"From day one I never had any doubt about doing it," he said. "It was not a hobby with me. Since age 15, I was going as far as my talent would take me."

It took him initially to Philadelphia, where he drifted away from rock because "when I started, it was not such a far-fetched idea ... to be a star. It gave me hope. Then bands like The Who and The Doors came along and they were the greatest and other bands started to fall by the wayside."

Listening to the blues "rekindled my ambition," he said. "I figured I could probably make a living as a bar band. It was better than digging ditches."

He credits that attitude with things starting to open up and adds, "I learned to play guitar at 21." True? Not true? Who knows?

Thorogood also said he wanted to be a standup comic.

"I do a lot of that," he said, declaring as proof "we're the funniest band there is. I'm not Neil Young or Tom Petty. That's just not me. Steve Miller's not 'The Joker.' I am."

Categorizing himself and his band as "the Three Stooges with guitars," he said, "the lyrics are pretty much intentionally funny," and protested (very emphatically) a suggestion that most of his "110 songs" reference drinking.

Checking over his song list, however, seemed to substantiate this suggestion. No matter.

Not surprising when he admitted, "My ideas for songs come from everywhere. If I see a beautiful woman, I write a song about a beautiful woman. If I see a train wreck, I write about a train wreck. If I see ..." You get the picture.

Best known for his list of 1980s hits, Thorogood is anticipating the release of his new CD, "The Hard Stuff," which will be out in May.

Meanwhile, he still pleases audiences with hits compiled during more than 30 years in the business ... and serves as his own best public relations person.

"We're very good," he said. "People love us a lot ... especially women."

Yep. "Bad to the Bone."

Posted by fountainhead at 1:11 PM

March 21, 2006

Interview @ enigmaonline

read the interview at

Many thanks to Mr. Weinthal for a terrific interview!

MARCH 15, 2006
George Thorogood


George Thorogood is a larger than life character, who with his band The Destroyers have a number of songs that remain not only popular but revered after all these years. When you hear the phrase, Bad to the Bone, the first thing that pops in to your head is the name George Thorogood. That song as well as Move It On Over, Bourbon, Scotch, Beer always gets everyones attention when played on the radio, a TV commercial, a sporting event, or even a movie. After more than 30 years of playing and recording George Thorogood remains as relevant today as ever.

Playing out and writing songs for over 30 years now is there any particular song of yours thats a particular favorite?

I like them all. That would be difficult. As my mom once said, Im proud of all my children. I would have to say that the one that brought us the most success was probably Bad to the Bone. The one that got us noticed was Bourbon, Scotch and Beer. Those two are probably the most popular amongst the people who purchased our CDs and bought tickets to see us play. But for me personally, no, I dont think theres one particular song thats a particular favorite.

My experience in doing interviews is that most artists say the blues have been a major influence on them. Why do you think that is so?

I think that was all there was to begin with. If youre going to play rock music properly, especially rock guitar - thats what it comes from. Its a shame, because Jimmy Page and JimiHendrix who are probably two of the highest profile rock guitarists of all time and turned on a whole generation the kids that listened to them just plug in the guitar and what they dont have in substance they make up in volume. They dont study the same things Hendrix and Page did. Therefore you get bands that are really not connected. I really dont have time for that kind of music and those kind of people. Its like an actor who has never heard of Tennessee Williams or a writer who has never heard of Hemingway or Steinbeck. So how can you call yourself a rock musician if you know nothing of Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, or Bo Diddley? Its like a stepping stone of a learning process that if not that Ive mastered, mind you Im just saying that the greats before me thats what they cut their teeth on. Ive followed in their footsteps in that fashion. Like country people who have listened to Johnny Cash or Hank Williams. You follow what Im saying?

Yes. A lot of bands and recording artists seem to have animosity towards commercial radio even hatred. What has been your relationship or feelings towards commercial radio?

I dont have any feelings about it one way or another. Commercial radio? You man like Top 40? I dont even know what commercial radio is any more. Like commercials for Pepsi?

Right, as compared to satellite, college or internet radio. Back in the 60s and 70s there seemed to be less corporate control over music compared to today. Now there are three or four radio groups that control most of the airwaves.

Well, were gonna have to get used to it. Corporate things are going to take over everything. Not just radio, but television. MTV sold out to a corporation, didnt they?


At one time they were an independent station. They were on 24 hours. I dont know who bought them. Thats just the way of the world. Once a corporation gets wind of something that people enjoy or something thats a potential moneymaker the corporations are going to move in and buy it out. Probably, eventually there will be a whole chain of House of Blues and theyll sell to some huge corporation. Thats just the way of the world. I have no say in that. As far as it being a problem, they dont care for that sort of thing. Its just the way of the world especially the Western world especially in America. Thats just the American way. Im not saying its good or bad. Why are they so upset about it? They still play their music.

Some think that they dont play their music.

Thats why theyre pissed off. (laughs) If they were playing their music they wouldnt care, would they? (laughs) You see what Im saying? Its like saying as long as you sell my product youre okay.

Where did you pick up your appreciation for music?

Just like anybody else. I just heard something and I liked it. When I started out listening to music all music was good. (laughs) So I heard Ray Charles on the radio. Everything I heard was on the radio. If it was on the radio it was good. I wasnt aware of anything that wasnt top quality. If you looked at people that cracked AM radio between 1955 and 1965, which was the bulk of the time I listened to the radio, you had some of the greatest names ever. Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley it was all quality stuff. If it wasnt, why are all of those people in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? And how come thats all you hear on the radio today? Mostly these classic rock radio stations, all you hear is the stuff 1955 to 1980 because thats the best stuff there ever was. Lets face it.

Do you feel radio has become too departmentalized where its divided into so many niches?

Theres too much of it now not to do that. When I first started listening to radio in 1958/59 there was a Top 10, not even a Top 20. So there wasnt that many people doing it. So they had to divide it up into sections. Just like they divided the Major Leagues into divisions. One time there was no division. There was just one league, remember? So they had to divide it up because there was so many. Thats the reason, I think.

Was there a particular song or album that left an impression on you growing up?

Not one particular one. It was a collection of everything. Everything I listened to had an impact on me. Id be knocked out listening to Hank Williams as I was listening to the Rolling Stones, or just as knocked out listening to Chuck Berry as I was listening to Bob Dylan. I cant pinpoint the one, though.

Was it difficult for you to leave Delaware to go on and pursue what would eventually become George Thorogood and the Destroyers?

To leave Delaware? No. I was booted out. (laughs) I was ordered to leave by the city council. Unanimously.

I guess they welcome you back now as a favorite son.

They do?

Im sure they do. Everybody is forgiving.

Who told you this?

Ive done a little bit of research.

Oh really? Who have you been talking to?

I cant reveal my sources.

Oh alright. Okay, alright.

Theyre not going to pull you over or anything like that.

Yeah? Well

I dont think unless youve got some outstanding warrants.

Ill just have to take your word for it.

I appreciate that. In the years that youve been playing,, how have you managed to stay contemporary and not become a nostalgia act like a lot of the bands that were around when you started?

I think that certain songs that you play and the style that you play them, you have certain material that works for every generation. Say like Danny and the Juniors are locked in a 50s like sound, or as someone like a Dean Martin, his style is not locked into any generation or any decade. It just keeps going on. I think we have two or three songs like that. People are always going to dance. People are always going to drink. People are always going to laugh. Our music is a combination of all three of those things. Thats what keeps it going. Thats the appeal. Its not a monster appeal like say, Paul McCartneys music. When I got in this business I said I was going to get into something thats like selling cheeseburgers, French fries, or selling Chevys something that will be around forever - something that will never go out of style, That was a conscious plan on my part. I think thats whats made us last. Plus the fact that Im extremely good looking and a sexy performer. You cant leave that out, can you?

Oh, of course not.

There you go.

I think thatll be the title of this article.


What goes through your mind when you see a commercial or attend a sporting event and you heard Bad to the Bone as accompanying music?

Its pretty much a universal statement. Its the saying more than the song, isnt it?

Sure its a saying, but when you hear the phrase bad to the bone you automatically think of George Thorogood.

Theres nothing I can do about that Its not a bad thing.

Not at all.

It can fit into just about anything. Thats why we did it, so it would have universal appeal.

What keeps you motivated these days?

Well, many things. I have a family to support. I love what I do. And Im too young to retire.

What is your favorite part of being a musician?

The fact to be able to do it. Even when Im not on stage I can pick up a guitar and sit and play it and entertain myself. A football player cant do that. Even an actor cant do that. I think thats why music stands alone. I think thats why musicians in general are almost unreachable. I think thats why they have so much appeal to the opposite sex too, because they think wow, even with a woman or a man it doesnt make any difference. I cant reach this person theyll always have the music. I think thats the appeal of being a musician. Youre never lonely as long as theres a guitar around or a piano, or whatever it is. You can haul it around with you. Its something thats very accessible. When youre at a party or alone you cant day, I think Ill set up a 38 field goal and make myself feel good if youre in a hotel room. (laughs) You cant do that kind of thing, can you? If youre a comic do you go in front of a mirror and tell a few jokes to yourself? In music its different. Youre safe there, so to speak.

Do you enjoy touring as much today as you did when you first started?

I didnt like it at all when I first started. I like it much better now. It was terrible when I first started. Terrible. We didnt have a crew. I had only one guitar. And the amps were always blowing up. We had to drive ourselves. The places we played werent very good. The P.A.s were terrible. The only thing that kept us going were the people. We had great fans from day one. And I dont understand how they stuck with us all those years. Things were pretty rough in the old days. Im talking about between 1977 and about 1985. It was all hit or miss. Most of the time it was miss, let me tell ya. (laughs)

How have you handled the digital age with all of the new technology that is coming into the music business?

I dont. I usually have other people doing that for me. I actually play through an amp. The digital age in a lot of ways has not reached me yet. You know, its good when you have things like going to the dentist or you get a check up, in medicine, things like that, flying an airplane it makes things easier, so to speak. But for the things I need to do, its not quite as necessary. I still have to pick up the guitar and it has to have strings on it. Its not digital I cant just push a button and out comes the song.

Posted by fountainhead at 10:28 PM

September 14, 2005

George Thorogood: 'The world has enough rock'

- read article at -

By DANIELLE C. BELTON, Californian staff writer

Posted: Wednesday September 14th, 2005, 11:49 AM
Last Updated: Wednesday September 14th, 2005, 11:51 AM

George Thorogood is bad and hes only getting worse.

KW Associates, Realtors
With his band, aptly named The Destroyers, he is seeking to wreak musical havoc across the land using only one bourbon, one scotch and one beer as a weapon.

That and songs like Who Do You Love? and Bad to the Bone.

Thorogood, a rock n roll bad boy, isnt afraid to admit it hes got three solid hits (and three more if you stretch a little) and hes not afraid to use them.

I was watching Leno and there was a guy on with a great shirt that said No New Rock. Perfect, Thorogood said in a phone interview with The Californian. Rock has ran its course over 25 years ago. Like jazz in the 20s, every art form has its run. Between 55 and 75, it was everything (rock) was going to be.

I think the world has enough rock right now.

Because of that, Thorogood says he and the Destroyers are putting out only one more album. (He actually wouldnt bother putting out one more, but hes under contract.)

But after that, Thorogood says its nothing but live shows. Playing his hits and living the life of a third-tier rock star, opening for legendary acts and playing hard blues rock gigs for the rest of his days.

And thats all the rocker cares about.

That and the notion that sometimes musicians should just give the people what they want the hits.

If Van Morrison never made another record but Moondance would you care? ... You dont need another record. Just play your stuff already, Thorogood said.


If you have one (hit) song you have a job. If you have three songs you have a career. If you have five songs youre a legend. If youve got more than that like the Stones, youre a god.


Let me do my three (expletive) songs that I do. I just want to be part of the party. Give me a uniform and Ill come to first base.


I say, better to be a stooge in heaven than a king in hell. I figure my cup runneth over years ago.


If youd covered those songs, Id be opening for you. You do the math. Everybody knows it and Im one to admit it.


I know John (Fogerty) and we have this argument all the time. Youre set for life. You were set for life when you were 30, pal. God, what more do you want?


The song is bigger than the personality and thats how it should be. Music should come first and the artist should come secondary to it. Thats just the way art is. Im merely what you call a servant to that theory. That, whatever you call it, concept of making it in the world.


Jerry Lee Lewis was playing with an all-new band and all the new guys came in. He sits at the piano and (the band) are like, here it goes. Its the Killer. And he says, Yall know my tunes?


I want to be a rock n roll star like every kid since 1965. I want to be a rock n roll star.

Posted by fountainhead at 6:19 PM

June 25, 2004

George Thorogood still a real Destroyer

- read interview here -

By Phil Drew , The Record

"Figuring out my band is like trying to figure out the plot to a Three Stooges film," says George Thorogood, who headlines the Palace Sunday night, with Dickie Betts opening.

"There's only two things in the world that you can have naturally. You can be sexy, or you can be funny.
"A long time ago I thought, 'I'm not sexy. I'm not that good looking. I'm never gonna play like Carlos Santana. I'm never gonna write like Bob Dylan. I'm never gonna be able to sing like Paul McCartney. What can I do? What is it that I have?' And I said, 'Be funny! Nobody does that.'
The only way I got through junior high school is by cracking jokes. Comedy was my first love. That's what I really wanted to do with my life when I was 12 years old."
Now 50, Thorogood last month released "Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock." It contains "Move It On Over," the biggest-selling record Rounder Records ever had. It was a heavy reworking of a Hank Williams country classic.
"Who Do You Love" was a blues-rocking crossover hit in the '50s for Bo Diddley, and "Bad to The Bone" was a Thorogood boogie monster inspired by his 1981 tour with the Stones and J. Geils.
EMI calls the album "30 Years of Rock" for commercial reasons says Thorogood.
"They put the word rock in everything these days. 'Rock the vote' got Clinton elected. Rockin' at McDonald's? They'll sell 40 more cheeseburgers a day if they put that up on the marquee."
George Thorogood has always been more about cheeseburgers than he has filet mignon, but his straight-from-the-groin delivery and tongue-in-cheek machismo make him more at home with the best of the farm team blues men than the millions of Stones wannabes. His look-you-in-the-eye honesty is refreshing in a world of rock poseurs who many think have a license for lunacy.
"I used to think (I had that license as a rock and roller). No, you don't! I used to think, 'Oh, well, I can do all these eccentric things.' 'Oh, well, he's a musician. He's a rock star.'
"You only get away with that to an extent and only for a brief period of time. Not anymore. It used to be acceptable. Now, all the rock stars are saints. They all start having children. That never used to happen before.
"Rock music in 1970 was a degenerate, a pre-vert. I was one of them, and now it's like this whole new thing; people trying to show they're a regular guy. Warren Beatty getting married and having children. What's that all about? You know what I'm saying?
"No, all of a sudden, everybody is trying to clean up their act and show they're good people. I'm thinking, 'No, they're not! They're still the same bums they always were. They just have kids now. So, it's like their fault now.
"I have to follow their pattern, but I'm looking forward to the day when I'm 66, 67, and I can sit there and scratch myself in public."
"Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock" debuted on the Billboard Top 200 Album Charts at 55. Robbie Gordon has a copy of the album cover on the hood of his car in the NASCAR Celebrity Allstar series.
Harley Davidson is headlining Thorogood in its Harley Fest Classic, a September concert expected to attract 10,000 bikers to Dan Dimas, California. Fox-TV's animated "King of The Hill" is awarding one lucky viewer to trip to Cleveland to see Thorogood live.
His album may have hit number one of the blues charts, but it's the classic rock crowd that drives his career. And it's a career niche he understands very clearly.
"They can only push you so far," he says. "If it was gonna happen, it would have happened by now. You can only take a 295 hitter and turn him into a 335 hitter. You might be able to stretch it into a 300 hitter, but you can only stretch it so far.
"There's only so much push they can do to push Thorogood up into the level of a Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty. I'm not bitter at all. Bitterness is ridiculous. Bitterness is for high school girls who didn't make the cheerleader squad, not for grown people."
When he signed with Rounder Records in 1978, they were basically a bluegrass indie label appealing to folk music fans.
"I always told the truth," recalls Thorogood. "I said, 'Look, here is where it's at. I'm a dynamo on stage. In the studio I can cut good tunes. I'm not gonna go to top 40. It's not out of desire, either. This is what I am. It's like Dustin Hoffman will never receive the headliner status of a Harrison Ford. He is a great character actor.
"I just laid my cards on the table. I said, 'This is what I do. I'm very good at it. Are you interested or not?' And they said, 'Let's put out a record and see how it goes.'"
The liner notes to the "Greatest Hits" album compares him to the character actor Lee Marvin. "It reminds me of one of those old spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood did. You know it's full of spit, but you still like it."
Thorogood doesn't think he's full of spit, but he does admit, " is my expertise, as they say."
Like many musicians, he sees no line, invisible or otherwise, between rock and blues.
"In my opinion, Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were the first real rock bands, if you think about it. They took these guitars. They put pickups in 'em. They put 'em in amplifiers. They got drums and bass, and they rocked. They rocked out. Then Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry just took it one step further and got it into commercial radio. They got into white people's living rooms is basically what they did.
"To me, Elmore James rocks just as much as Led Zeppelin. It's the same thing to me. That's boogey. That's great stuff, man. As far as how you package it, what difference does it make as long as it gets to the people.
"You could call a movie 'The Exploitation of Steven Spielberg." Or you can call it 'Jaws.' See what I mean?"
Whatever you call him, rocker, blues man, hit maker, or entertainer, he speaks his mind.
"I mean, take it this way. Say, there's a kid who is 13 years old. He gets his leg broken playing football, right? And they set his bone in the hospital. Nurse runs by. He runs his hand up the nurse's skirt. I say, 'Oh, that boy. That's my son. What a great kid.'
"OK, now there's a guy 68, 69 years old, and he has a heart palpitation. They take him to a hospital for observation. He runs his hand up the nurse's skirt. They go, 'That's pop!' But if a guy 42 does it, he gets arrested. So, I can't wait 'til I get to 60. I can do anything I want. It's a license for lunacy."
Oh, yeah, for those of you who think Thorogood only does old blues covers, five of the 16 songs on "Greatest Hits" are Thorogood originals.
"We're gonna put out a CD called 'The Original George Thorogood & The Destroyers.' We got about 30 originals. I met Randy Newman recently and I asked him, 'How many songs have you written?' And he said, '200.' And I said, 'Well, I've written about 30, so I'm about 1/7 away from Randy Newman. That's not bad!' "
In the meantime, also check out Thorogood's last studio album "Ride 'Til I Die." It's got stuff by blues guys like Hooker, rockers like Chuck Berry and "Don't Let The Bossman Get You Down" by another white blues artist with a well crafted sense of humor, Elvin Bishop.

Posted by fountainhead at 12:00 AM

May 26, 2004

liveDaily Interview: George Thorogood

- read interview here -

May 26, 2004 10:51 AM - Celebrating three decades of rock and blues mayhem, George Thorogood (news) and The Destroyers--bassist Bill Blough and drummer Jeff Simon--recently completed the Canadian and European legs of their 30th anniversary tour.

On June 23, the group will head off on the VH1 Classic-sponsored U.S. leg of the tour, supporting the new greatest hits package "30 Years of Rock."

Produced by Tom Rothrock (Elliott Smith, R.L. Burnside, Beck), the album features a remix of the Thorogood hit "Who Do You Love" and a previously unreleased version of "Rockin' My Life Away," alongside the staples "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," "Move It On Over," "Bad To The Bone," and "If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)." The band has seven gold and platinum albums, and has performed over 3,000 concerts.

"30 years," Thorogood sighs. "I'm just happy to be here doing something after 30 years. A little sort of surviving rock band with more-or-less original members. Very lucky. We're very blessed."

liveDaily: What led to you form The Destroyers?

George Thorogood: Finance, basically. I wasn't really doing anything as a soloist. I had a second guitar player, and I'd say it's just a natural evolution. I just basically [started doing] what Muddy Waters and Elmore James and those guys did, and then I said, "OK, now I need a drummer," and I ran into Jeff Simon. Then I said, "OK, in order to make this thing work, you need a band." You need a bass player and a drummer, at least that to, you know, make a living. Because you're not pulling it off alone. There's only one John Hammond and there's only one Segovia. Ry Cooder, I could sit and listen to that man play all night. But I can't [pull it off alone].

And the band came together ...

... in the fall of '73. I was down in Florida and came back to Delaware, and [Jeff Simon] said that he had booked a gig for us. I didn't even own an electric guitar. I had to go to a hawk shop to buy one, fast. I actually bought it the night before the first gig. I only had it one day and it worked so good that Jeff and I said, "Let's get together tomorrow and talk, 'cause I think we can pull this off. I really do."

He actually dropped out of college [to start the band]. It was a big move for him. Man, it was a hard four years. We could not find a label or a bass player to make the thing happen. That's what really hung us up.

Where was your first gig?

In Delaware at a college--Laine Hall. It was a Saturday night, dormitory, Jeff put it together. He went down there and talked them into it. It was tough getting gigs, really tough for a three-piece boogie band. We didn't write any songs, didn't do any Top-40 covers. The next gig we played was in a topless place. Real tough joint in Delaware, real rough place.

Were the fans a lot different back then than they are today?

Not really, no. I really got into it in '67 when I saw Frank Zappa, The Doors, Steppenwolf and Hendrix. It was a bunch of hippies playing for other hippies. And that's what I wanted to do. I got in on the tail end of that.

Everybody understood it [then]. Nowadays, it's a little tougher to get people to understand where I'm coming from with what I do. It's not a matter of picking up the guitar. There's a lot of other things behind it that you have to learn, like the essentials of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry. I'm fond of saying I went to the school Eric Clapton did--he graduated with honors, I squeaked by with a C+. [laughs]

Did you ever think you'd still be doing this 30 years later?

Not 30 years ... I knew we could make a couple of records. I really thought, maybe making a couple of records, you know, making a name for myself, getting established and doing it for a while. I didn't know it was going to last this long. In 1973, I did not know there was a "Bad to the Bone" or "Move It On Over" or "Get a Haircut." I didn't know that was in my future.

Posted by fountainhead at 11:37 PM

December 5, 2003

George Thorogood and the Destroyers bring bar-blues hits to Mandalay Bay

- Las Vegas Review Journal -


George Thorogood admits that he's not afraid to run from a fight.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers have earned a 30-year career by performing such gruff bar-blues songs as "Bad to the Bone," "I Drink Alone" and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer." Thorogood calls his stuff "American music."

As a guitar player, Thorogood makes no bones about playing a fundamental style (one-chord songs in an open-G-string tuning). He's never even played with a guitar that wasn't a Gibson ES-125.

"My music is very basic," he says. "It might be one chord, but it's still difficult to make that one chord, and make it last for seven minutes, and make it interesting. Like, some of the James Brown songs might be one chord, but he stretches them out 45 minutes. It's a fantastic thing he does."

Thorogood says mastering a chord in a song is a worthy endeavor, and musicians shouldn't feel pressured to strike new ground all the time.

"Why does something have to be inventive? Why does something have to be progressive?" Thorogood says. "Some people go into the forest and they look at a beautiful tree that's been there for 200 years, and they don't say, `It's nothin' new,' " he says. "There's something to be said for doing something well, and people enjoy it. I mean, go to the strip club and say, `There's nothing new! There's nothing progressive there!' "

With his band playing the House of Blues on Saturday, and promoting a new album called "Ride 'Til I Die," Thorogood remains in what sounds like good spirits. And he answers a few more obvious questions about his extinct guitar and the way many people perceive him to be.

Elfman: You've got a certain kind of image. You seem like somebody who could take care of himself in a fight.

Thorogood: Oh, easily. You know how I do that? ... Take off in the other direction fast. That's how I handle myself. Do you know what I tell the guy who says he's gonna fight me? I say, "Hold on a second, I'll be right back." I don't tell him when I'm comin' back. He's still standin' there three hours later. That's how I kept all the teeth in my head. (He laughs.) So if somebody wants to tangle with me, I know how to handle it, Doug.

Elfman: It's been 30 years with the Destroyers, but you were rockin' before that, though, right?

Thorogood: I was trying to make it as an acoustic act. ... It just wasn't goin' anywhere. ... And people were coming to me and saying, "Why don't you form a band?"

Elfman: (As an acoustic guitarist), you weren't doing "Me and Bobby McGhee" or anything like that, were you?

Thorogood: No, I was doin' "Bourbon, Scotch and Beer." I was doing the same kind of material. I was just doing it alone.

Elfman: When you first started, were you right on that Gibson ES-125?

Thorogood: Yeah.

Elfman: Did you ever experiment with anything else?

Thorogood: I tried, but nothin' works for me. See, I'm basically an acoustic guitar-type picker. ... A 125 is set up like an acoustic. I used to call it a semi-electric. The other guitars are a flat-out electric, and I can't play with a flatpick. I can't flat-pick at all. I can't play a solid-body guitar to save myself.

Elfman: Your picks are obsolete now, too, right?

Thorogood: Yeah! The guitar's obsolete. The picks are obsolete. The amps I use are obsolete. I'm obsolete. It's like they're running me out of the business, Doug! You know what I mean?

Elfman (laughing): What's gonna happen when everything runs out?

Thorogood: Well, then that's the end of me. I say to people, "Please, don't steal my guitars, because they don't make 'em anymore."

Elfman: How many do you have?

Thorogood: I have a few, but I could use a few more.

Elfman: Maybe you should make a public pitch to have people send you some.

Thorogood: Yeah, "Go up into your attic ..."

Elfman: Did Gibson ever make any replicas?

Thorogood: Yeah, they made one that I use in concert. They made if for me. They tried to make a few zzs, but they weren't very good.

Elfman: What about the picks?

Thorogood: The picks -- you know what we did? We went and bought the machine and made them. We bought the blueprint for the machine, but we used it so much, it broke down. And then we found the (picks) weren't right, because we weren't using the right kinda plastic. So then we went to get the plastic to make the pick, and they had stopped making the plastic, too! ... Somebody's trying to tell me something.

Elfman: So I saw this great interview with you in Guitar Magazine where you said (that a Harvard musician claimed) you aren't playing slide guitar right. So, you were trying to correct that notion.

Thorogood: Well, I had one person tell me I was playing it right, and his name was Muddy Waters. That's good enough for me. I was sitting in a room with him, and he was listening to me play. And ... Hound Dog Taylor heard me play. And one time Bonnie Raitt handed me a guitar. And I was sittin', playin' with Fred McDowell. ... And Robert Lockwood is the guy who taught me how to play it, and he's Robert Johnson's stepson. So what better authorities can I have, Doug, at this point in my life?

Elfman: What are they saying you're doing wrong?

Thorogood: I don't know, hitting the strings wrong, something. And I was just saying I learned from the best. ... And Muddy Waters listened to me and said I had mastered it. He actually told me, on one song, I played better than he did. So I was just, like, well you can't do better than that.

Elfman: Do you remember what song that was?

Thorogood: It's called "I Can't Be Satisfied." So I just say, Well, it's too late now to change!

Elfman: Yeah, you might as well stick with Muddy Waters.

Thorogood: Yeah, you know what I mean?

Elfman: But you still say that you only give yourself a five on a scale from one to 10.

Thorogood: Well, 10 is a long way to go. Ten is like getting up to where Carlos Santana is, or Jeff Beck, Elvin Bishop. Those are the greatest guitar players on the planet. It's like saying I bat sixth for the New York Yankees. It's, like: "I play on the New York Yankees, but we got a guy named Willie Mays battin' cleanup." ... You also gotta look at guys who are just amateur guitarists. I'm considering them, as well.

Posted by fountainhead at 5:22 PM

August 24, 2003

Terrific interview from Guitar Player

George Thorogood

Im still a mofo on the guitar, proclaims George Thorogood, the former semi-pro second baseman and life-long aficionado of Chicago blues, barroom boogies, cheap beer, and various forms of hellraising. The Wilmington, Delaware, native traded his infielders glove for a guitar after seeing John Hammond in concert, and, soon after, became a fixture on Bostons blues club circuit. His 1977 debut album, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, included the signature song One Burbon One Scotch One Beer, and the tune established a blueprint for everything that has happened since. The still boyish 52-year-old recently released his 14th studio album, Ride Til I Die [Eagle], which, not surprisingly, maintains the high-energetic trademark of his past albums.

GP - The new CD features songs by John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddleyall artists youve covered many times throughout your career. Is it difficult keeping fans interested when you consistently mine the same material?

GT - Well, I am doing different songs from those guys. I can understand some people saying, Well, he has covered all of those people before, so forget it. But other people might say, Holy smoke! George has done another Chuck Berry song that Ive never heard of. Im gonna go out and buy the record. See, it works for you, and it works against you.

GP - How do you recreate the same excitement in the studio that you and the Destroyers establish so successfully in concert?

GT - I pray [laughs]. Being onstage is a very religious experience. Recording in the studio is pure torture. The only motivation I get from recording a song is that someday Ill be able to get onstage and play it.

GP - What originally drew you to your trademark Gibson ES-125 guitar?

GT - Theyre the only ones that I can play! They stopped making them in 1970, so be sure to put this in your article: Please dont steal Georges guitars. I also use a Dobro pick, and they dont make those anymore, either. Im screwed if my stuff gets stolen.

GP - How would you rate yourself as a guitar player, on a scale from one to ten?

GT - A struggling five. If I was a baseball player, Id say Im almost a .300 hitter. Rhythm and slide are my specialties. I can make a living playing, and thats all I can ask forthats respectable enough.

GP - Who taught you to play slide guitar?

GT - Do you know who taught Robert Lockwood how to play slide? It was Robert Johnson, who was his stepfather. Thats why he calls himself, Robert Lockwood, Jr. So Robert Lockwood should know something about playing slide guitar. Do you know who taught me how to do it? Robert Lockwood. He personally sat down with me in 1973 and said, Youre doing it right. Thats why I have to laugh when I hear people saying stuff like, Thorogood doesnt know anything about slide. Both Robert Lockwood and Hound Dog Taylor showed me how to do it. Hound Dog Taylor learned it from Elmore James, and Robert Lockwood learned it from the source himself. Muddy Waters once told me I played I Cant be Satisfied better than he did. You see what Im trying to say? All of these heavy duty cats have told me Im doing it right, and then some 19-year-old white kid from Harvard is telling me that Im doing it all wrong. Im caught in a crossfire here.

GP - Who would you rate as the greatest bluesman of the 20th century?

GT - Robert Johnson. I wouldnt say hes my favorite, but hes the best. His recordings are absolutely flawless, and he had it all covered. He could sound like a whole band, his voice was unique, and no two songs of his sound the same. My personal favorite, though, is John Lee Hooker. I never get tired of listening to him.

GP - How have you managed to keep your music so fresh for the past 30 years?

GT - Im honest. If you believe in what youre doing, and you approach what you do with all of your heart and soul, you can stand behind it, and honestly say, Ive delivered something worthwhile here. Thats my approach.

Elliot Stephen Cohen

- view interview -

Posted by fountainhead at 9:51 PM

April 21, 2003

Interview with Jeb Wright of Classic Rock Revisited

The Dean Martin of the Blues
by Jeb Wright

I remember driving around with the top down and the stereo cranked up listening to G.T. while wearing dark shades and drinking a beer. Whether it was Back To Wentzville or Bad To The Bone Thorogoods music has always made me feel good. Hell, that is the point aint it? I mean his version of One Bourbon, One Scotch & One Beer is only matched by I Drink Alone. These two songs prove that it does not matter if George is writing a song or putting his own stamp on an oldie the result is the same: FUN.

It was a thrill to catch up with Thorogood as he is starting his tour in support of his new Eagle Rock Records release Ride Till I Die. The title is as true as the music. The new album is what one would expect from the self-acclaimed Indiana Jones of the blues. 12 bars, slide guitar and gravel voice. The tracks American Made and Greedy Man will be welcomed by people across the country this summer.

Be sure to visit Thorgoods official site here and pick up a copy of Ride Till I Die. While you are there you can preview the new CD and listen to streaming audio of an hour long Thorogood concert. With summertime just around the corner you will be glad you did. Besides, we need to crank up Ride Till I Die and compete with the youngsters of today as we cruise down main street. Maybe we will turn a couple of kids on to an American made rock icon named George Thorogood in the meantime.

Jeb: How does a white boy from Wilmington, Delaware end up being struck by the blues?

George: I dont think it had anything to do with race. I was just really into blues music. Whatever you do in your life, whether it is working at a filling station or hanging out with jazz musicians, rubs off on you. The smorgasbord of life comes out. All I went to see were blues people so it just naturally rubbed off on me. I went to see the Who when the opened up for Hermans Hermits. I didnt want to hear Hermans Hermits so after the Who was done I got up and left. If the Monkeys were my thing then evidently I would come out sounding like that, wouldnt I? The first act I ever saw was Chuck Berry. I was 16. He was the first national, premier act that I ever saw. After that I saw everybody. I was torn between rock and blues. I would see the Doors one week and Mississippi Fred McDowell the next. That is my background. I am white -- is that what I am? Robert DeNiro is an actor and he doesnt know what the fuck he is! You just do what you do. Buddy Guy once said this about white people playing the blues, The guitar does not know what color the fingers are.

Jeb: I thought it was weirder that you were from Delaware than you being white.

George: Elvin Bishop grew up in Oklahoma. He got a scholarship to the University of Chicago. He had been listening to the radio in Oklahoma and he heard all this great music coming from Chicago. The first thing he did when he got there was ditch class and go down to Checkers Lounge and hear Muddy Watters. Maybe if I were from the Chicago area or Texas then I would have been exposed to it a little more.

Nobody came to Delaware so I had to go to the bands. I would go to Philly or New York or Boston and I would go see Muddy Waters. If BB King or Paul Butterfield were in New York then I would go see them. Look where The Stones are from, man. They are farther away from it then we were and look where they ended up!

Jeb: I want to talk about the new song American Made. What was your inspiration for writing that song?

George: I didnt write it. A guy named Charlie Midnight wrote it.

Jeb: I thought that was one of yours.

George: Thats the idea (laughter). It is funny, the stuff we dont write people go, George, that is a great song you wrote and the stuff we do write they go, Is that a Muddy Waters song? In a way it kind of works for us.

American Made is the kind of song we want to do. With all due respect to Grand Funk Railroad, a George Thorogood tour is the all American, cheeseburger, riding around drinking Budweiser event. That is our imagery. Naturally we wanted to have a song about the regular hardworking, blue collar American citizen. That is what this song is, nothing more and nothing less. That is what the band is. I am pleased that you picked up on that.

Jeb: How long has it been since you did a record?

George: The last studio record was four years ago.

Jeb: Why the break?

George: It gets hard to find the material and we didnt have a label. EMI ran its course and they stopped doing business with us. We had a one record deal with CMC International. I wasnt really hung up about it. The band was working and we were doing great. Last year we did a festival that was, in order of appearance, Loverboy, Blondie, us and then Robert Plant. We went on a whole tour with Steve Miller. I am doing good. I am batting leadoff for the big boys. That is a dream come true and that is what I set out to do anyway.

Jeb: I forgot about your live album in St. Louis.

George: That was done at the Fox Theater.

Jeb: I saw you with Steve Miller the next day in Sandstone in Kansas City.

George: I must have been a mess.

Jeb: Steve Miller had a hard time following you.

George: There is only one Steve Miller. That was the dream tour. Stevie Guitar Miller is a blues guitarist. You can count them on one hand. There is Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Elvis -- nah--, the Stones, Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Steve Miller. They all started off in the blues and broke over and became a rock act.

Once you cut a song like Satisfaction youre a rock act forever. There is no going back. After Fly Like An Eagle or The Joker or Rocking Me Baby -- you can kiss my ass if that is not the All-American rock song.

Jeb: What about Bad To The Bone?

George: Its something but I dont know what the hell it is! It fits in there somewhere. My point being that once you cross over that line you cross over that line for good. When record execs come up and say, George, were waiting for you to go the way of Steve Miller, The Stones and ZZ Top. I say, Did you hear who you just said? Why dont you go the way of Ted Williams? What is the matter with you? If you look at the history of rock there has only been a few bands that have been able to do that.

I dont want to lose that blues feel but I would like to see us looked upon as a good rock act with songs like American Made. J. Giels Band was another one. They had Love Stinks. The were a blues-boogie band at first. If anyone had the grease down it was them. They were IT. They got in there and they wrote some hits and they became a rock band. They got in the Top 40 and that is very cool. There is nothing wrong with that.

There are no rock bands now anyway. Steve Miller plays a tour and then you dont hear from him for ten years. If I was John Fogerty I would be playing every night. If I had that repertoire I would be out playing all the time. He just goes out every 5-6 years. I go John, You have written the greatest rock n roll songs ever in the history. The Beatles idolize you. Bob Dylan thinks Proud Mary is one of the greatest American songs ever written. I would lead off with Traveling Band the rest of my life. He says, I havent written anything new and I am working on some new stuff. I go, Fuck the new stuff! You dont need the new stuff. The stuff you have got is great and you know it. Steve Miller is like that. He says to me, I want to create something new and I go, WHY? You have Rockin Me Baby and Living In The USA, you dont need to write more songs.

Jeb: You cant sell yourself that short, George. You have a pretty damn good set list yourself.

George: I have been working on it for 25 years. I am getting there but I am talking about all time rock classics. Forgerty has a dozen of them. The Stones dont need to write any more songs now do they? When people go see The Stones they want to hear Street Fighting Man, Honky Tonk Woman and Gimmie Shelter. They dont need to worry about the new stuff. Nobody is going, I wonder what is on the new record. Give me a break over here.

Jeb: How do you decide which blues classics get to become George Thorogood songs?

George: I dont look at them as blues classics to begin with. The idea is to take the song and to try to turn it into a classic. There is no need to cut Hootchie Cootchie Man or Got My Mojo Working. They are already classics. I heard Bourbon, Scotch & Beer and I heard this new song Greedy Man and a couple of other ones and I thought they were too good to be obscure. They needed to be exposed. I have always thought that was my job. I am the Indiana Jones of rock n roll. I am a blues archeologist. I dig around and find these songs and people go, I never heard this song before. We go Duh! Thats the idea!

Jeb: Is it a challenge to find these songs?

George: Now it is impossible because nothing is obscure anymore. With the internet and the television everything is available. Its like getting laid at a whorehouse; its easy. My job is completed. There is no need to go back and go it again. The last four years the song Greedy Man was on my brain constantly. I drove everyone around me crazy. Not only did I end up in a straight jacket but all my friends and family ended up in one as well. Greedy Man is a good, funny song. I love it. The second I heard that I knew it was for me.

Jeb: You celebrated the Big 50 this year.

George: Every year is a big birthday. It has got to happen eventually. I am just glad it did happen!

Jeb: There is only one other alternative and it sucks.

George: Thats right.

Jeb: You are now in it for life.

George: There is no getting away from it now.

Jeb: Maybe you dont realize that you have given your life to the blues.

George: The blues is the foundation of it all. That is the cornerstone of American music. You can listen to the hits of the 50s and 60s and blues are all over the place. They say the blues had a baby and they called it rock n roll. I say the blues and country music had a baby and that is rock n roll. The other heavy influence is country and it is derived from the blues the same way that jazz is.

You know who is really hooked on it -- I mean gone? Robert Plant. I mean he is gone, Jack. You cant even talk about Robert Johnson around him without his eyes start twitching. He has sabbatical tours of Mississippi. He looks at himself as a total blues man and not as a rock guy at all. He is into the entire voodoo of it and the mysteriousness of it. He is into the whole black arts of it like Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil. He is even more gone than Billy Gibbons and both of them are just blues insane. They are so gone that I asked them, How do you get through one day? John Hammond is the worst. If it were not for the guitar he would be in prison or in an insane asylum. I am one of the lucky ones. I just tapped into it. I dont go visit the occult shops or put a stocking cap around my head and burn my hair like they did in the 40s. These guys just do everything.

Jeb: Thorogood music does attract a better class of women as well.

George: Now youre talking. That is the ultimate compliment as well. I am the Dean Martin of the blues.

Jeb: The last question I have for you is not a serious one.

George: Good!

Jeb: I think I know the answer to this one I think I know who you wrote You Talk To Much about because I dated her for a few years!

George: You will never guess who I wrote that song about.

Jeb: Who?

George: Youre talking to him. I am the person that I had in mind. I had too many songs with I in it like I Drink Alone so I had to put a you on it. The you is me.

- view interview -

Posted by fountainhead at 9:20 PM

April 8, 2003

Interview with John Easedale from Network Magazine

John Easdale - Network Magazine

George Thorogood should be declared a national treasure. For more than 25 years, Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers have been blowing the roofs off of every possible rock & roll venue, from clubs and small theaters to stadiums and Enormodomes worldwide. And from the beginning of his career, Thorogood has been preaching the Gospel...according to John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, all of whom are represented on his new album, Ride 'Til I Die, which is due in stores March 25 courtesy of the fine folks at Eagle Records.

And here's the best part: George Thorogood circa 2003 is almost exactly the same as George Thorogood circa 1980, or 1990, or at any time during his career. If anything, like a fine wine, he's improving with age. But one needs only to give a single listen to Ride 'Til I Die to hear it for him or herself. Using Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines (Santana, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Blues Traveler), Thorogood has come up with his finest collection in years, if not all time. Or, as Thorogood himself puts it, "If it's not the best, then it's just as good as the best album I've ever done."

And we heartily concur. In a recent conversation, Thorogood discussed his new album and his own musical philosophy:

You're an East Coast boy originally, right? Are you living out here in California now?

Yeah, I made it. I escaped and made it to the promised land--where all rock & rollers are supposed to end up.

The new album sounds really great; it's not what you'd call a great departure from the rest of the George Thorogood oeuvre. I was joking with somebody and I said, "You wouldn't believe it; he does a Chuck Berry song, a John Lee Hooker song and a Bo Diddley song!"

Yeah, you wouldn't believe that, right?

But at the same time, you just do what you've always been doing, and it's amazing.

Well, I look at it this way; even if you're married for 25 years, the marriage is there and you're more into your wife every day. I look at what we do as far as albums go, and [people may say] "Well, it's the same as what he did." I say, Woody Allen's movies are all the same, but they're not the same. If you look at Bananas or Take The Money And Run, but then you turn around and look at Hannah & Her Sisters or Broadway Danny Rose, they are the same, but they're better. You can say, "Well, you see one Woody Allen movie; you've seen them all." I say that's not so. If you watched all four back-to-back, you'd say, "I see the thread and the similarity, but they're not exactly the same." And Woody might put out a movie once every five years, but he just gets Woody Allen people to go see them. That's all he does, and that's what we do.

I just want George Thorogood people to listen to our record. I'm interested in keeping the friends that I have. If I make a couple more on the way, that's fine, but I'm more interested in sustaining and keeping a great relationship with the fans and friends we have and branching out from that.

Besides, do you think America is a racist country in general? I think musically it is, because if you're a white guy and you make an album of, say, cover songs, Rhythm & Blues stuff, for your first couple of records, they go, "Oh, it's really great. This guy could be the next boom." So when you don't become the next boom, they have that attitude that you're supposed to go on writing songs and you're supposed to turn into Tom Petty or Bob Seger or The Rolling Stones or Van Morrison. You're supposed to start on blues, then you're supposed to start writing your own stuff and then you're supposed to start writing rock operas and doing concept records. Now when you don't do that, they say, "Hey, he's a flop; he never reached his full potential."

Aretha Franklin, is she the greatest soul singer in the world? She's the greatest singer in the world; she did great soul records for years. Then she cut a record that was a departure from all that and she got panned by the critics something fierce. They said, "Come back to us, Lady Soul." Stay in the same bag, do the same old thing. If a black person gets out of that--with the exception of Marvin Gaye, who did that very well--it's like, "No, no, you're supposed to be doing this." If I did an entire album of originals and let's say I branched out and tried to do what Van Morrison does, all the critics that have been waiting years for me to do that would just look at it and go, "What's Thorogood doin'? What is this? He's the one-chord boogie guy." See what I mean? You can't win and you can't lose, so I just stick with the same old thing, which I am the master at this point. John Lee Hooker is not alive; the J. Geils Band is broken up. We are what you call the champs by default.

The stuff that you're doing still sounds like you did in the '70s and '80s, by which I mean it's not dated. It's just timeless.

Well, I picked that to begin with. I picked something I figured would never go out of style. If I opened up a store, I would have a store with Budweiser in it, I would sell bread, I would sell eggs, and I would sell milk. I'd say these are the staples. Your store is never gonna go out of business if you have these things. You might have Dom Perignon and wine sitting on the shelf and you sell maybe four bottles, but you can't make a living on it. They're not gonna buy that kind of stuff everyday, because the average person doesn't have that kind of money. So I figured that if you stay with something you know. Besides, that's what I love anyway. I grew up a fan of the first three Rolling Stones records.

It came across at the beginning of your career, and it still comes across. People weren't familiar with the work of John Lee Hooker or even Bo Diddley back when you were making your first records. You certainly opened a lot of minds and opened up a whole galaxy of music that a lot of us had never heard because they weren't playing too many '50s blues records on the radio. It's great that you're continuing that tradition.

Well, we may have turned on a lot of new people to that, but to me, I was just carrying on something that had been going on for at least two decades. Even Chuck Berry, when he started, and Bo Diddley--although their thing was very unique, their roots were blues. Chuck Berry's idol was Muddy Waters. Bo Diddley's idol was Howlin' Wolf. Then Howlin' Wolf's idol was Charlie Patton and Muddy Waters' idol was Robert Johnson. So it's just a continuation of something that people have done long before me and done much better than me. I always say that I went to the same school that Keith Richards did, but it's just that he graduated with top honors and I squeaked by with a C+. But at least I went to the right school.

- view interview -

Posted by fountainhead at 12:11 AM

April 7, 2003

Interview from WLAV-FM

Thorogood Rides On

Looking back, it seems fitting that George Thorogood's signature song, the self-penned "Bad to the Bone," was a staple for years at various Major League Baseball stadiums across America. After all, the Delaware native and longtime New York Mets fan played in the minor leagues before choosing to make his regular living on concert stages instead of baseball fields.

Thorogood reportedly decided to change careers after seeing a 1970 performance by blues musician John Hammond Jr. Favoring tradition over trends, Thorogood opted to play music that "will never go out of style" -- and to him, that was rowdy rock and raw blues.

After assembling his original Destroyers lineup, the singer-guitarist moved with the band to the Boston area, where blues fan John Forward saw them perform circa 1975 and subsequently served as their liaison with Rounder Records, an independent label based in Cambridge, Mass.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers, released by Rounder in 1977, established the template for almost all future Thorogood albums -- plenty of familiar and obscure covers, plus a token original (sometimes a few) that usually followed the structure, theme and spirit of the outside material. The self-titled debut disc featured a version of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" that has long been a staple on classic-rock radio, while Thorogood & Co.'s 1978 follow-up, Move It On Over, included covers of Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" and Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" that still get plenty of airplay.

Starting in 1982, Thorogood and the Destroyers began a long association with EMI. Their first album for the label, 1982's Bad to the Bone, was certified gold on Aug. 7, 1985 -- two days after their follow-up release, 1985's Maverick, achieved the same distinction. Through 1999, Thorogood & Co. placed 16 tunes on Billboard's mainstream rock songs chart, including the originals "Born To Be Bad" and "If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)," plus covers of late blues artist Robert Johnson's "I'm a Steady Rollin' Man" and rock legend Chuck Berry's "Reelin' and Rockin'."

Since the 1999 release of Half a Boy, Half a Man and Live in '99, both on CMC International, Thorogood and his band have remained active on the touring circuit. Ride 'Til I Die, their latest album, was issued in March on Eagle Records, and they'll begin a stretch of North American tour dates April 8 at the Fox Theater in Bakersfield, Calif. The current Destroyers lineup includes the longtime rhythm section of Jeff Simon (drums) and Billy Blough (bass); guitarist Jim Suhler, who joined the fold in 1999; and brand-new saxophonist Arno Hecht, who previously worked with the Rolling Stones, J. Geils Band and many others.

Thorogood recently sat down with us to discuss his original music-career goals, Suhler's contributions to the Destroyers and the chances of Ride 'Til I Die being his last studio album.

George Thorogood: My [original] plan was to do four [albums] . . . I [signed] with Rounder Records, and we did the first one, and I wanted to do a deal. I said, 'I want to do one more studio album, an all-acoustic album and a live album.' That was going to be my diploma, so to speak, for getting work. I was going to say, 'Here's what we can do live, and here's what I can do as a soloist,' so if, like, Bonnie Raitt was in town, I could open for her as a solo performer, and if Buddy Guy or Elvin Bishop was playing, we would open for them as a trio. I was really pushing to get a gig in Chuck Berry's backup band. That was it. That was pretty much my goal.

Something went wrong somewhere. I don't know what happened. I had a very simple plan -- a simple three-piece band. Our act isn't exactly brain surgery. To come back later with 11 records . . . I had a problem with EMI because every time I'd re-sign, they'd say, 'You're going to do a six-record deal.' [I would say], 'No, wait a minute! . . . Two records!' I didn't want to walk [away from the label]. I just said, 'I don't have that much material! I want to make good records.' From 'Get a Haircut' up until 'Half a Boy and Half a Man' . . . there's maybe 10 good songs there, and that's good enough for one record. There were a few complaints [from] the people, and they said, 'This album isn't strong enough.' I said, 'I told you! I can't do that! I'm not Sting.' I'm not Sting. I'm not Bruce Springsteen. I don't have this incredible genius of depth musically or writing or any of that. Paul Simon puts out an album once every 10 years, but it's a killer album when he does. I said, 'I want to do it about every five years, and let's do a three-record deal. Throw out a live album every 10 years or so and we got a deal.' Eleven records -- it's pretty amazing. It's pretty amazing someone would want me to make 11 records. That's even more flattering. That's an accomplishment in itself.

As the Years Go Passing By

[It's] a strong possibility [that this could be our last studio album] . . . this album is what we're about. [Producer] Jim Gaines captured what we are -- the entire 25 years of the Destroyers' existence . . . [All I've been doing during that time is] improving my rsum, so to speak, so I can keep working. Robert Duvall taught me that. I met him and he said, 'Every movie I do is my first movie. This is my catalog of work. This is what I can do.' Then he sits back and waits for the offers. That's a very wise way of doing it, of doing your job, so to speak. That's what I've looked at. This is my job -- to produce a good record and do a dynamite show. We're still in business. Something must be going right.

My Friend Suhler

I could talk all day and all night about [new guitarist] Jim Suhler. I first saw him play in a club in Memphis [Tenn.]. He had a three-piece band. I walked in and sat in the back and listened to him, and I had never heard anybody go through the guitar like him. He had about eight guitars up there, and he went through every style. It was like watching someone who was a combination of Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thorogood, but at the same time he was himself. I had to meet him -- very soft-spoken, incredibly polite, a gentleman with manners from Texas but, at the same time, very confident about what he could do. He's humble but he's not embarrassed. He knows what he can do and he knows he's good.

I said [to Suhler], 'I'm thinking about getting another guitar player. What do you think?' He said, 'You need a rhythm guitar player when you do that Chuck Berry thing. Besides, you're going to be working outdoors and you need another guitar player.' I didn't hesitate. I knew exactly the guy I wanted, and that was Jim Suhler. I said, 'Whatever you're making, I'll pay you triple.' He's been with us ever since, and we went in the studio . . . every solo [he played] is different; every solo is unique. When you listen to it, there's a familiarity there, but at the same time you don't say, 'Oh, I've heard it all before.' That's what I get from him.

Won't Change My Style

I play solid, powerful rhythm guitar, and I will stand up against [any] slide-guitar player in the world. You get me on the microphone and you can't shut me up. That's what I do. [Suhler] is the opposite of me. He's quiet, doesn't say much, but man, he gets that guitar in his hand and there's nothing he can't do. That's what we need here. We need a yin and a yang in this band. For years, I tried to come through with the lead stuff that Stevie Ray Vaughan [could] do, and Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck and all the greats. And it's just not me. That's not what I do. I'm an entertainer, a performer. [Suhler] inspires me in that direction. What he told me is, 'George, I'll stand in the background. I'll be Jeff Beck and you be Rod Stewart. I'll be Keith Richards, you be Mick Jagger.' I said, 'Great! Great!' That's all I wanted, anyway. That three-piece band had nothing to do with ego -- it was merely finance that made us a trio. Don't ever make any mistake about that -- Jimi Hendrix I am not.

Interview by Steve Reynolds

- view interview -

Posted by fountainhead at 9:58 PM

March 13, 2003

GT interview with the late, great Sheila Rene'

Q&A with George Thorogood

Sheila Rene': We're rolling (tape) now.

George Thorogood: That's an appropriate button you're wearing, "I Love Rock And Roll." That's you. That says it all.

SR: It's the title of a Joan Jett song. I just found it one day and bought it. Speaking of songs, I have in my hands one fine new album. You've found some great tunes here. What brought these particular songs to your attention?

GT: What or who? Well, it came to my attention if we don't have an album out, we won't get too many more gigs; and you've got to have an album to get gigs. To have an album you have to have songs. To have songs that nobody has done before or you've never done before. The well was tapped out. We put a lot of people out on point looking for material. We got some help from Bob Thiele and little or no help from Waddy Wachtel.

SR: No? That's not what I've heard.

GT: That guy's crazy! He's crazier than I am. I made the mistake of mentioning Frank Zappa's tune "Trouble Everyday." He said 'we're going to record that thing.' I said 'we're not going to record that. That's Frank's. That's "Like A Rolling Stone" to Dylan. That's Frank's.' Waddy comes back with 'you're not leaving here without recording it.' I said 'it won't be easy.' Waddy says 'I don't care. And he made me do it.'

SR: It's my favorite song on the album for me.

GT: Then it was worth it to get Sheila Rene' to come speak to me this afternoon.

SR: Absolutely - and you speak of his genius. What was it for you?

GT: That's like combing the globe and trying to put your finger on God's best work. All of it was beautiful, all of it was great. His attitude, his style and there was never any music he could not master. He was funny and musically equipped. He had it all as opposed to guys like me who get up and beat the hell out of one chord and pretend like they're always testing for an hour and a half.

SR: (laughing) You're right.

GT: You can't explain genius any more than you can explain the air we breathe. Asking me to explain that is ridiculous. I can't explain it any better than I did. The greatest minds in rock and roll couldn't figure him out - what have I got to lose?

SR: Give me the Waddy Wachtel story. He came to see you perform one night and decided he wanted to work with you. Yes?

GT: Naturally, I'm the last to know anything. Waddy Wachtel, as you know, has this great body of work from the '70s, '80s and '90s. He's everybody's guy. It came to my attention that he wanted to work with me. I never knew about his work until he worked with Keith Richards. I said 'Keith with a studio musician? I don't know about that.' But Waddy is a unique case and I went to see the Expensive Winos live and he supplied the guitar on that tour. I said 'okay, this is kinda funky, this makes it.' I met him and the problem was shuting the two of us up (laughter) to get us to play the music. It was like finding this long lost soul brother that you'd lost around 13 or 14 years of age. His whole childhood was mirrored of mine, completely. The difference between us is that he mastered the guitar. He's another genius.

SR: George, you're great.

GT I've got another story for you. He did three things in the studio that no one have been able to make me do. They've not even tried. He got me to play a little slower, turn down and shut up for five minutes. That's an impossibility and I did it.

SR: What a great soul you have. I read a quote from you once stating that the reason you and John Lee Hooker were so good together was that you both did it wrong.

GT: (laughing) Exactly. I'm still doing it wrong. I need people like Waddy or Hank Carter just so it's not real wrong. Just to balance it out. I was fond of saying 'I love playing the guitar so much that I never took time to stop and learn how to play.' I still go up to people and say 'show me something today.' Wow, that's cool when did you learn that and they say when I was 13.'

SR: You didn't pick up a guitar that early.

GT: Yeah, here I am in my 40's and I never took the proper time to learn the proper way. John Lee Hooker is a very primitive player; he's very driven, very rhythmic and he's not too concerned about technique. He's just concerned about how it makes him feel or other people feel. I'm the same way.

SR: I think John Lee just turned 80 and selfishly, I had to tell this man now how much he means to me. His music and his humanity.

GT: Thank you. I look pretty good for 80.

SR: No, darlin' not you. I remember Hooker showing up to play with you at the Warfield in San Francisco one night and he brought his own six-pack.

GT: That's Hooker. He's always thinking about somebody else.

SR: And now he's working with his daughter on an album.

GT: That's great.

SR: "Jail Bait" was written by Andre Williams. Did he record this song first? I know I've heard this song a long time ago.

GT: That's the idea. Wow, what's the date today?

SR: Today is May 14.

GT: Okay, let's phone up the UPI and Natural Museum of History on the phone. Mark this date since it's the first time anybody stumped Sheila Rene'. No, no, no. You usually get everything first. I usually go over my records and you know this stuff. This is the first one.

SR: No, did he record it first? Who was he?

GT: Who is he? He's still working.

SR: Wow.

GT: I called up Elvin Bishop and told him that I was going to record this song, "Jail Bait." There was a pause and he said 'that's Andre Williams.' I asked what he thought of that? He goes 'Yeah that's a good one.' Then I thought 'Oh, no. Elvin was thinking about doing this song, too.' Waddy walked into the Rolling Stone's camp and Keith Richards gave him holy hell about "Jail Bait." Richards said 'you guys.' And it would be a great song for Bishop to record. It's hard to find obscure material anymore. It's almost impossible.

SR: I know. That's why I'm curious about these songs.

GT: Elvin was tipping his hat; and at the same time kicking me in the butt for saying I was doing that one.

SR: You have 462 websites all around the world.

GT: Is that good?

SR: George, that's very good.

GT: Let me write this down.

SR: I couldn't get into all of them but it was so great to see. What's up with Olga in Finland?

GT: Sheila, I don't even know what a website is. (laughter abounds) The last website I saw had some kind of spider in it. (lots of laughing in the room)

SR: Oh, no.

GT: I don't know about the Internet or websites. I don't know about computers.

SR: A lot of your fans certainly do.

GT: I'm not putting the knock on it. I haven't had time. I've been making records, cutting sound, laying down tunes and boogying on the bandstand.

SR: John Hiatt is an old buddy of yours and his tune "The Usual" made it on this new album. That guy is such a great writer.

GT: Old. How old is John?

SR: I'd guess late '40s.

GT: That's not old.

SR: Hey, give me a break, I'm 58.

GT: You said old friend.

SR: George, it is in years and ...

GT: I think you mean a long-time acquaintance.

SR: There you go. I know the song "The Usual."

GT: What album is it on, do you know?

SR: No, not off hand.

GT: I was told that it was never recorded by him. Where did you hear it?

SR: I believe he has played it live. I'd say a Cow Palace show. He has such a great sense of humor.

GT: All his stuff is funny. He's a funny writer.

SR: Elmore James is represented well with his "Manhattan Slide."

GT: I don't think we missed too many people on this record. We got a little of everybody.

SR: Even a new Thorogood tune, "Night Rider."

GT: Yeah, right. I wrote that song quote unquote. It took me about eight minutes to get those lyrics together because Waddy said 'you got this riff what do you want to call this thing?' I go 'Let's look through the Allman Brothers entire catalog then the Doobie Brothers and Johnny Winter and see how many Night Rider's there are out there. He said 'you got lyrics?' and I said 'Sure, I got lyrics.' Of course, I didn't at that time. I went home and snuck off to the toilet and starting writing.

SR: It's amazing to me how many musicians write in the toilet.

GT: The thing about it is that you've...some times you work better when there's a gun to your head. I had to do it. I had no choice.

SR: This is the ninth album with EMI. They must be doing something right.

GT: Really? You can tell that to our manager.

SR: I just mean that you wouldn't stick around if they weren't doing right by you.

GT: Doing right by me was allowing me to record the material that I know we need to keep the Delaware Destroyer's head above water. It has been a real struggle the last couple of years. A real struggle. I mean it's... you know this band. They always say that hindsight is 20/20. Probably the only person who knows this band better than Mike Donahue or Jeff Simon is me. I know what works for our group. I know the material that works. To go to a company and say we've got this song, "Get A Haircut...Get A Real Job," "I Drink Alone." Something like that or "Born To Be Bad" or "If You Don't Start Drinkin' I'm Gonna Leave." Now if they present a script, right? Then they say 'I don't think this is a good move for you." What's this movie about? I play the part of an ex-drunken gun fighter in the old days of the West and I keep falling off my saddle. Then they go 'I don't think this is good material for you.' Did you ever think of doing Shakespeare? You follow what I'm saying. That's the rough edges when you say doing right by somebody. Well, doing right by somebody is a loaded question. Do you mean doing right by giving me lots of money or lots of promotion or lots of freedom.

SR: All the above.

GT: Freedom. That's what it's all about. That's what everything is about. Free to do your job. You have a style that you do, right? A style since you've been doing this. When you're with a company and they say this is not how it works anymore, then it's like saying Westerns aren't selling anymore. So Clint Eastwood did not stop making Westerns, he just stopped making movies because that's what he makes. Okay, it's not what the kids are buying so I said fine I won't make any records. This is the work I do. So, as far as doing right, it's like you go out on a date and you want to be yourself. When that starts to get confused and they say if you're gonna do that you might only sell 200,000 copies. So, I'll sell 2,000,000 copies. 200,000 people will be happy. That's what you call the give and take. That's why I'm always sparing. I'm getting pretty exhausted about it.

SR: Yeah... I understand.

GT: It seems that everytime we get around to making a record there are all new people in the company, in the business and they're always saying 'What can we do for George Thorogood?' I tell them that I'm not a rookie no more. This is what I do. You hire John Wayne to do a Western. The heads of Columbia say we've got to get this guy's career going. I say 'Wake up! It's been going' (laughing) It's been going for 20 years now.

SR: You do seem to have worked out a pattern where you do you music, tour until you drop. Interesting tours with very interesting bands like ZZ Top and the Rolling Stones. Two, three years, you come back and do another one.

GT: Sheila, you want to start your own record company?

SR: (laughter) No, no, no.

GT: I know. It's just refreshing to have someone come up to you and say 'looks like you know what you're doing.'

SR: Oh, yeah. Everybody knows you know what you're doing.

GT: I learn for you people. I learn from the Elvin Bishop, The Allman Brothers, The Stones and the Bill Grahams. That was my school. I tell our producer listen here's where it's at. I didn't write the book I just memorized it. I don't come in here saying that I've got this unique system. It's not that unique. I just watched how it was done by the pros. When I first met you I was learning.

SR: George...

GT: When I had out my first record out I wasn't coming with the answers. I'm coming with the questions. (laughing). I interviewed you. I wanted a crash course on how this thing was done.

SR: I remember you jumping in one leap from the sidewalk into the back seat of my Volkswagen convertible. My producer Eileen Duhne' was in the front seat. Duhne' and Michael Coats send their best. Coats said to tell you that he has a son who's a lefty. Were you a lefty in your baseball days?

GT: (laughing) No. I'm right handed all the way. Maybe I should have been a lefty. It wouldn't have hurt me either way.

SR: I can't help but notice your snakeskin bracelet. Is Mom still making the snakeskin jackets?

GT: Thank you. (laughing) No, she has retired, been retired.

SR: Does it make you feel good, all kidding aside, to be back out with ZZ Top. Are they fun on tour?

GT: When they're around. They keep to themselves and they have a schedule that they have and they have to conserve their energy for the show. What's fun is any time you're out and you lay new material on your people. When they start to pop on it, that's the real fun part. You select material for ages and you don't know if it'll work It's a process, first you have a gut instinct that the song will work for us. Then you have to see if you can play it and then you look to see if no one has recorded it recently. Then you've got to sell it to the record company, oh boy! Then you have to see if you can squeeze it on the radio. The final test is can you play it live and if you can, does the audience dig it. If they do then you've got enough to keep you going for another 18 months or two years. That's a hard process to go through. A lot of artists don't care or at least that's what Waddy says. Many artists just don't concern themselves with that kind of conscious approach to it. A lot of those people aren't opening for ZZ Top either. (laughing) They're sitting home waiting for the phone to ring and book 'em somewhere.

SR: "Rockin' My Life Away" That's what we do. You dedicate that song to our "Killer" Jerry Lee Lewis.

GT: Yeah, absolutely. It's his tune and he brought it to my attention. I didn't want him to come looking for me. (laughing) He's not the kind of man I want to have on my bad side.

SR: I understand. This tour kicked off May 9 with ZZ Top. You're going through May 31 and then what?

GT: Then I'm going back to Los Angeles and we'll see. I'm taking these things one block at a time in my life. It's too dangerous to just wing it anymore. It takes much more preparation than it used to take. There's just so much money involved. It used to be that there was 18 places to play in the world. There was the Ash Grove, The Bitter End, Bottom Line, Fillmore East and Fillmore West, the Warfield, the Troubadour. That was it. Now it has completely changed. And we don't have the big guy anymore. We don't have him to help us out. We don't have him take over and just do it. All we had to do was show up and play. We're at the world's mercy now. It used to be that you could come to Mr. Graham and you could say 'Mr. Graham my voice is weak. I'm trying to get this part in this picture. I don't know if rock and roll is any good. I don't know if I can get any work plus they're trying to deport my son-in-law and I want to do a lot of work.' Bill Graham would just say (GT does his BG voice here) 'Not to worry Tex, I'll make 'em a offer they can't refuse.' You were in good hands. All you had to do was show up.

SR: Bill Graham. I think of him often.

GT: I'll never, ever might say the Rolling Stones, J. Geils and George Thorogood and the Destroyers, but what did it always say above those names?

SR: In unison, Bill Graham Presents.

GT: Always. (laughing) Even now it says that.

SR: Even now.

GT: What I'm saying is that it's tough to make those moves anymore. You really have to do your research. When Mr. Graham was around it was a little easier. He did all the worrying, all the connecting and you just played the guitar. That's the way it should be.

SR: Every once in a while before I moved to Texas I would get a vision at the Fillmore or the Warfield venue of Bill taking notes on his yellow note pad. He's still around.

GT: Bill and Frank are probably hanging together. While we were messing around with "Trouble Everyday" I'd mention Frank Zappa and people were really cheering and happy about Frank. I said 'You know Frank, he just split because he was done with this. He had turned us on to everything we could possibly be turned on to. Now, he's waiting for us.'

SR: Jim Ladd, an old buddy of yours. This is going to run from tape on his website,

GT: Yeah, but you keep using the word old.

SR: I'm sorry. I'm thinking long-time acquaintances.

GT: Yeah, right. I just spoke to Ladd recently. We talk all the time.

SR: Great.

GT: Guess what we talk about?

SR: What?

GT: Rock and roll. He's Mr. Rock and Roll. He's the guy.

SR: So, I'm into good music. I don't care what you call it. I bring this up because the tune is "Get Back To Rockin'."

GT: I meant it in a universal way. Get back into rockin' is us. I heard it and that's us. It was a demo tape from a guy from Texas. If there's a song that's us, that's the one. I didn't mean it in a musical term. As opposed to killing, hating, beating, maiming and whatever. This is what the music did for me. It got us off the path.

SR: What's the path?

GT: When I was in junior high, there was a thing called the path. Guys who wanted to impress girls would come up to some little guy and say 'meet me at the path.' There would be fights there. You dreaded the path. You had to fight him in front of the whole school and get beaten or you chickened out and then you still looked bad. The Beatles came along and no body went to the path anymore, they went home and listened to the records. Get back into rockin'!

SR: At this point in your career, what are you looking to as a new challenge.

GT: My challenge 20 years ago was to break in and stay in. That was a big one. If you're playing slide guitar you have one thing going for you and one thing going against you. All the people you're trying to play for are hip people. They're already hip to Ry Cooder, Canned Heat, Savoy Brown and John Hammond. They're all hip to that style of guitar...Duane Allman and Johnny Winter. That's how I play all right? However, those guys are the greatest guitarists in the world. So, you're going to really have to deliver. So they're aware of what you're doing but at the same time you're going to have to be really, really good at it for them to hire you. That was the big one.

SR: And now?

GT: To work with the big boys I've got to be at least as good as the big boys in some fashion. My challenge now that I have the gig is to keep it. That's the challenge. Pete Rose said that when he was a kid all he ever wanted to think about or do, was to be a big league baseball player. When he was 40 and he was still in the big league he said 'that's all I want now.' So ever since I can remember all I've wanted to do is be in a successful rock band. It's a struggle now just to stay in it. It's harder to stay in it than to break into it. That is my motivation every time I step on the bandstand. You've got 50 per cent who've heard you a lot so you have to be better than the last time they heard you. Then there's the other 50 percent who've never, ever seen you before so you have to blow them away, too. It's always there with me. If you don't go well you're not going to make anymore records and Bill Graham Presents isn't going to hire you and ZZ Top isn't going to ask you to open their shows. If you fade then Sheila Rene' is not going to come around and talk to you about Jim Ladd. (laughing) so that's my motivation. That's my challenge.

SR: I don't know what it is about the slide guitar that hits me like the metal doesn't, country doesn't. I can't figure out what that sliding does. What's your favorite guitar at this point.

GT: Right now?

SR: What are you playing on stage tomorrow night?

GT: That's my favorite guitar. Always has been. The Gibson 125.

SR: You and Ted stick with those Gibsons.

GT: I broke into playing on an acoustic guitar and I've tried a million guitars. It's like people drive certain cars because their bodies fit into that car better. I've tried other instruments and they didn't work for me at all. That was good because I'm the only guy who plays the Gibson 125. Nugent doesn't play a 125; he plays a Birdland, a much more sophisticated instrument.

SR: One last question George. Are you a happy man, with your music and your personal life?

GT: Yeah, I'm lucky to be one of the two percenters in the world. I've always argued with Tommy Lasorda when he was always saying he has the greatest job in the world. I'd say 'Sorry Tommy, I get paid to play my guitar in a band and Waddy is probably the only other person I've met...Keith Richards doesn't say that, but he lives that. He loves it. I run into so many people who do this for a living and they're always groaning. Especially the rock guys. Not the Blues cats. Hooker is very happy. All the rockers seem to be miserable. They're either not famous enough, or not rich enough. I pulled Brian Setzer to the side once and I said 'Brian, every night you go on stage you're Eddie Cochran reincarnated. Don't you remember when you were in highschool and you were nothing. You couldn't even do 15 push ups in gym. They gave you grief for being a freak or creep or whatever? You make your living playing a guitar. What's the deal here?' Some people come to see us and they ask 'why is this guy so happy?' I say well excuse me, I'm living my dream every night. Who cares if it's out of tune and I sing a little flat?

SR: It's a party.

GT: I get down to the ballpark and say 'Just give me a uniform, put me in the lineup. I don't care where I play.

SR: Is there anyone that you haven't collaborated with that you would like to play with?

GT: Collaborated with?

SR: Yeah, written with, played with, wrote a song with, just hung out and talked to? You've worked with some dynamite musicians in your lifetime.

GT: That's a good question.

SR: You've met them, played with them.

GT: I've got one thing left. I've got one move left. I met your man James Brown over in London. I met him and I finally met B.B. King. I went to see Little Richard live for the first time and met him afterwards. I made sure I called Jim Ladd the next day to tell him all about it. I finally went to see Dylan, met Dylan. I've played with the Rolling Stones. I've met John Fogerty, played with him. At least I talked with Dylan, that's something. There's only one thing left.

SR: Have you heard who's managing Fogerty?

GT: Yeah, Bill Graham Management. I played with Carlos Santana in New Zealand. He was amazing and wonderful. Of course, I worked with John Lee Hooker. So, I'm going to put the question to you? Who's left to talk to, meet and work with? Who's left?

SR: Don Was.

GT: I think I can think of a bigger name than that.

SR: I'm not thinking big names as much as I am producer.

GT: I don't mean working with. I mean meeting eye to eye, shaking their hands.

SR: Yeah, but Was has produced most of the people you mentioned.

GT: He's not a performer.

SR: He certainly is. He was in the band Was (Not Was). He has just come out with a tribute to Hank Williams. (Thorogood's rendition of "Move It On Over" put him in the spotlight, big time.)

GT: See Hank Williams would be another name for the list, but he's dead.

SR: I understand that.

GT: Okay, I'm going to retrack here. Let's go right up the totem pole here. John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Now we get into John Fogerty, David Crosby, Bob Dylan, The Stones, who's left?

SR: I see your point. Who's left?

GT: Come on. Are you crazy? The Beatles. That's all that's left. I've never met any of them or worked with those people.

SR: There are three left.

GT: Yes, there is and I'm going to meet one of them at least. They played in Madison Square Garden with Bob Dylan at the tribute show. Dylan was up there and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers we backing him up. George Harrison was playing guitar with him. We were told that nobody could come near the stage while this is happening. Luckily, some of the guys working there were people that had worked in our crew sometime along the line. They knew me and knew I was there. I said 'All I want to do is one thing.' They asked 'What's that?' I said 'I want to sit on some part of the stage. Nobody has to see me with my guitar. I'm not going to play it or plug it in. I'm going to sit on the stage while one of the Beatles and Bob Dylan are playing.' I can say I was on stage with the Beatles and Dylan. You see. You don't find many cats like me that talk like that.

SR: You're absolutely right.

GT: Waddy Wachtel talks like that.

SR: That's why you guys hit it off so well.

GT: Exactly. When I was in the 11th grade I didn't hear nothing about producing records or anything. I said 'I'm going to grow my hair long, play a guitar and hang out with the Beatles, the Stones and Dylan.' The Beatles are the only ones left. When Ringo Starr takes out his All-Stars, I've got a great opening band for him.

SR: Damn right.

GT: I don't think I'm ever going to get a chance to open for McCartney. I don't think that's going to happen.

SR: Why not? He's coming out again.

GT: Okay, my name is on the list.

SR: I'll do what I can. (more laughter)

GT: There's one more act that I've somehow missed. I've never seen him and I'd love to work with them. That's Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. I think that would be a good rock and roll show.

SR: Damn right. He's out touring now too. Get your manager on it!

GT: Other than that, like you said, Don Was. That would be a great thing to have an album produced with him, but that's fine. My motivation is before I leave this to meet and play with the Beatles. I talked with Zappa on the phone once. That's was good enough.

SR: I got to interview him twice.

GT: See there, you know what I'm talking about. If I were an actor, I'd be saying I've worked with Pacino, DeNiro, Hoffman, Nickolson, but I haven't worked with the fat kid yet.

SR: Brando.

GT: Beatles. Brando. Brando. Beatles.

SR: Thank you for a good album. Thanks for coming back again.

GT: You're welcome.

SR: Thanks for this time with you today. I love you, George.

GT: Always, Sheila. My pleasure. Keep up the good work.

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Posted by fountainhead at 1:48 AM

December 8, 1999

Blue to the Bone

Even a man who has sold 15 million albums has his off days

Ottawa Sun

Even George Thorogood gets the blues. Real everyman blues.

An avid baseball fan, the Delaware raunchmeister watched his beloved New York Mets fall just shy of a World Series entry after the Atlanta Braves' 11th inning, 10-9 win to clinch the National League Championship Series, this despite a Cinderella story of a season.

"Atlanta's gotten a little boring with their winning and not winning," says Thorogood over the phone in the throes of a world tour backing his 13th release, Half A Boy, Half A Man. "They're supposed to be the team of the decade and they got only one World Series win.


"Man, everybody was pulling for the Mets, the underdog team. It was really nerve- wracking."

Equally frustrating for Thorogood and the Destroyers, who hit the Congress Centre tonight along with Edmonton's Rockin' Highliners, stems from putdowns that their "meat-and-potatoes" music is too working-man related and lacks any real 'I've-been-down-and-out' feeling.

"To me, someone who really has the blues is a Hank Williams Sr.," Thorogood retorts. "The lyrics he writes, now there's a man in pain.

"Dylan is an excellent blues writer. And Stevie Ray Vaughan, he may be the last one who knew what the blues were about."

He adds humbly, "Me, I don't look at it as an emotion. I take it as a musical passion, a musical style."

Meat and potatoes

Having a string of classic rock staples doesn't hurt, either.

Thorogood and his Destroyers have issued 13 albums since their debut in 1977 (a 14th, Live in '99 is due out shortly) and sold more than 15 million copies worldwide on the strength of hits such as Move It On Over, Bad To the Bone, I Drink Alone, If You Don't Start Drinking (I'm Gonna Leave) and Get A Haircut (And Get A Real Job).

So sure, the soon-to-be 49-year-old's brand of fuzzed-up blues covers and originals haven't veered off course in the past two decades. But as the man with the big white Gibson electric sees it, why should it?

"If you walk into a restaurant, you're hungry and you only have a certain amount of money, meat and potatoes will never go out of style. Like coffee or toast or beer," Thorogood says, a little more reflective.

"We'd thought about that when we first got going. We said, 'What can we do musically that will never go out of fashion?' If it's meat and potatoes you want, it's meat and potatoes you'll get.

'One Bourbon'

"I'm like an army supply sergeant. All I do is supply what the people need. I'm a waiter, I wait on people musically. Here's the menu, what would you like? You want an order of Bad To the Bone? You'd like that well done? Yes, sir. Something to drink? One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer? Yes, ma'am. I'll be right back. That'll be up in a minute."

Sounds like Thorogood isn't feeling so blue after all.

"Hey, everyone gets the blues," he says without skipping a beat. "You don't hear people say, "How are you feeling today? And a guy says "Oh, I've got the jazz today. You know, I'm feeling very reggae-ish."

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Posted by fountainhead at 12:20 AM

November 17, 1999

Humble, not bad, to bone

Thorogood puts career in perspective

By DAVE VEITCH -- Calgary Sun

In George Thorogood's world, people can be divided into those who love the Mets and those who love the Yankees.

Thorogood, the baseball-loving, blues-rock guitar slinger, belongs to the former camp.

"These Mets are like me," says Thorogood, who performs tonight at The Palace with his longtime backing band The Destroyers.

"First of all, nobody likes the Mets. Number 2: They're like these little pests that won't go away. They could win the World Series

10 years in a row and they would still be the underdog scum of the National League. They never do anything smoothly.

"Nothing in my life has come easy. I wasn't born good-looking. I wasn't good at sports. I was average at best."

Although the 46-year-old native of Wilmington, Del., likes to cast himself in the role of the underdog -- "I'm a Chevy Nova in a world of Rolls Royces," he says -- one shouldn't make the mistake of short-changing what he's accomplished during his 22-year recording career.

He has released 13 albums -- his 14th, Live In '99, comes out later this month -- which have sold more than 15 million copies. Not at all shabby, especially considering these records consist mainly of other writers' material and all offer just slight variations of the same raucous blues-rock style inspired by the likes of Elmore James and Chuck Berry.

It ain't fancy, but for a certain constituency that likes high-octane, blues-based party rock, Thorogood and the Destroyers have a reputation for delivering the goods every time.

"It's all that I can do," he says matter-of-factly. "Don't overrate me. I'm not that versatile."

One thing's for sure: He's not exactly prolific, especially considering he doesn't have to write a full album's worth of material before entering the studio.

"Albums are torture," Thorogood says.

"Especially the last two or three. It gets harder as time goes on.

"Everything's torture: Finding the material, being able to play it, being able to play it well, being able to record it, making sure it comes out good, making sure the record company understands your vision, having the radio stations play it.... It's a long, hard process.

"I wish they'd go back to a six-song format, or something like that. That would be a lot easier to do.

"First of all, how many times do you listen to a CD and listen to it all the way through? Then radio is going to play two songs at best. And then you're maybe going to be able to squeeze three of them in your live show. It's like the other songs are going to waste."

Thorogood says he gets pitched songs all the time, but admits "99 percent of the stuff I get is junk.... Every song I get, the lyrics usually go: 'I'm bad, I'm bad, I drink a lot, drive around in cars, (make love to) a lot of girls, I'm bad.' "

Gee, George, you never do songs like that.

"Yeah, right, exactly," he laughs.

While we're on the subject, how bad are you, really?

"Some songs are reality; others are fantasy," he says.

"Bad to the Bone? Fantasy. Born To Be Bad? Fantasy? Blue Highway? Reality. That's how I look at the songs. We all want to be James Bond. We all want to be Errol Flynn. But we're not. Nobody is, the least-wise me. I'm more like Beaver Cleaver."

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Posted by fountainhead at 12:18 AM

November 15, 1999

Still bad to the bone

By MIKE ROSS -- Edmonton Sun

In light of my adverse reaction to the Chemical Brothers concert last month, a reader suggested that perhaps I "should sign up for the George Thorogood tour."

Well, it just so happens the Delaware Streak is in town this week, playing tonight and tomorrow in Red's - "I'm looking forward to seeing the biggest mall in the world," he says. But I think he's got all the people he needs.

Besides, he just about punched my lights out when I talked to him in 1993. That is, he would have if I hadn't been safely on the other end of a telephone line. I asked an innocent question: was a song he recorded called Killer's Blaze perhaps a wee bit over the line? George sang it convincingly, "I'm going to kill you if you don't start treating me nice/you gonna wake up one mornin' baby and find yourself cold as ice."

He said no, it wasn't. One b-b-bad dude, that George.

Six years later, fans might be dismayed to catch a glimpse of his sensitive side on his latest album, Half a Boy, Half a Man. It's a heartfelt, cry-in-yer-beer country ballad called Not Tonight, one of only two original tunes on the record. He buried it at the end, but it's a winner. Could this be a new direction for the man, the manliest man in rock 'n' roll, no less, who can knock down all that bourbon, scotch and beer?

"Naw, I wrote that song about 15 years ago," he says in a recent phone interview. "This is the first record company that wanted it. (He's now with CMC International, home of many a dinosaur rock band.) I did it this time and it seemed to stick. I was hoping Dolly Parton would record that song."

He's kidding, I think. In any case, the song doesn't seem to go with Thorogood's hard-drinking, hard-living vagabond image.

"Well, ya know, Mick Jagger wrote Brown Sugar. He also wrote Fool to Cry. I don't know what that means, so, uh, don't worry, I'm not going to dwell on it or anything."

Addressing the notion - for the 1,000th time, I'm sure - that he ought to write more of his own stuff rather than always covering songs by Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker, he insists that, damn it, Jim, he's a performer, not a songwriter.

"I'm a ham-and-egger when it comes to rock 'n' roll. I have to rely on my wits. I just can't go into the studio and let the creative juices flow. I gotta hustle. There are geniuses liked Bob Dylan or Paul Simon and then there are people like me who are just, uh, clever.

"I tell it like it is. I might be a lifetime .290 hitter but I had to work really hard to do it. I have to really pump at it. I'm proud of it but at the same, it's a tough gig."

Sure, he's worked hard. He had to. With everyone from Eric Clapton to ZZ Top to the Rolling Stones picking over the old blues catalogue many times over, Thorogood had to hunt for stuff that hadn't been done before. For instance, there's a simple reason why there's no John Lee Hooker on Half a Boy, Half a Man - "We've done them all. There are none left to do."

He goes on, "Selecting material is not as easy as people may think. It's a very hard process to find material that hasn't been covered by anybody ... but I got a little bit more of an inside track to that. I can hear a song and go, well, the recording's bad but nobody's ever made a good song out of it. We've done that quite successfully over the years. Besides, Tower Records carries all that stuff now. Twenty-five years ago, it was obscure material. You really had to dig and come up with tunes. Now it's easy. Now it's like getting laid in a whorehouse."

And how, one may wonder, can he sing Bad to the Bone every single night and make it sound so convincing?

The secret, he says, is "not to overdo it - that's what keeps it fresh. If you stay fresh the whole thing will stay fresh. Putting new material into the show every other year, a few new songs from the new record, that's what's keeps the older songs fresh as well. The people keep it fresh. I don't see any people looking bored at our shows."

Drunk, maybe, but never bored.

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Posted by fountainhead at 12:14 AM

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