fountainhead: March 2006 Archives

Thorogood lets music dominate the stage

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By MICHAEL PERRY, Courier & Press correspondent
March 26, 2006

If you like straight ahead, no frills rock 'n' roll, The Centre was the place to be on Saturday night. On an almost bare stage, except for a drum kit, some speakers and a few microphone stands, George Thorogood and the Destroyers brought their distinct version of the blues to 1,932 mostly satisfied fans. The band of five, consisting of Thorogood, drummer Jeff Simon, bassist Bill Blough, guitarist Jim Suhler and saxaphonist Buddy Leach, took the stage a few minutes after 9 p.m. and after Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" played to a darkened theater. Dressed all in black, the minimalist approach of the band managed to place the emphasis on the music played. Because the blues is the root of rock 'n' roll, this stripped-down effect was the perfect complement to Thorogood's library. Having performed approximately 30 years, it was refreshing to see someone enjoy himself as much as Thorogood.

Driven forward by the rhythm section like a chunky locomotive, most of the songs seemed to take on a life of their own. Whether is was the immediately recognizable "Bo Diddley" back beat of "Who Do You Love," the opening chords of "I Drink Alone," or the quasi-spoken blues standard, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," Thorogood and the band had most of the fans on their feet from the opening number.

Thorogood is first and foremost an excellent guitar player, and this was never more evident than on his biggest hit, "Bad to the Bone." He spent the night spinning and duck walking, but mostly playing blistering blues.

"Nighttime," a J. Geil's Band song, was another highlight of the show. Between the playing of Thorogood and the driving force of the Destroyers, each song almost had a hypnotic effect. At various times throughout the show, fans were either dancing in the aisles, or seated, simply nodding their heads to the beat.

The Centre is not the most conducive place for a show of this nature. By the time the sound gets up to the upper balcony, it is so muffled to be almost unlistenable. The middle tier is much better as far as the sound goes, but the seats are still too far away to allow the listener to get involved. Only on the bottom level does the full concert experience come full circle. Even then, audience participation is somewhat limited. Cross Canadian Ragweed opened and sounded like a mixture of Tom Petty, Blackfoot, The Black Crowes and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band has been playing for almost 12 years, and although it hasn't received the accolades of other bands together that long, it isn't from lack of talent. The tickets for the show indicated that the concert was to begin at 8 p.m.; however when this reviewer entered the auditorium at 7:45, the show already was in progress. Near the end of Thorogood's encore as he introduced the band, he dared to ask the question, "Who is the baddest?" Obviously, it is you, George ... to the bone.

Thorogood's drink: Mix humor with blues

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


TOM CONWAY
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.

Thorogood found right job on his own

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By GORDON ENGELHARDT
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.

Bad to his funny bone

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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."

Interview @ enigmaonline

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read the interview at enigmaonline.com

Many thanks to Mr. Weinthal for a terrific interview!

MARCH 15, 2006
George Thorogood

BY DAVE WEINTHAL

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,

Gearing up for new album - - -

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Thanks to DestroyerMetFan we all have some info on the new CD. The link to the Eagle Records bio of GT is here. However, for your reading pleasure and for the sake of archiving, here is the complete text (new CD info in bold):

George Thorogood has a theory.

And awaaay we go!

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article from the Sarasota Herald Tribune

By P.J. LEVINE

CORRESPONDENT

To paraphrase an old adage, in the world of rock 'n' roll, some men see things as they are and say "why?"; some dream of things that never were and say "why not?"

George Thorogood sees his guitar and tour bus, and says "why the (expletive) not?"

For more than three decades, Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers, have personified the spirit of roots rock with lengthy, high-energy tours featuring songs about wine, women and, well, more wine and women.

Speaking by phone from Los Angeles as he and his band once again prepare to hit the road, Thorogood is as affable and ingratiating as the music he plays. It's also readily apparent that he's as skilled at playing the media as he is his six-string guitar.

Before the first question can be asked, he's into rock 'n' roll raconteur mode.

"Let me tell you a story about us playing Tampa," he says. "We've played there many times, but one time around 1997, we'd just played the Tampa Theatre -- which I call the people's theater!

"I was getting ready to head into the (tour) bus when a guy runs up to me, shakes my hand, and says 'Hey, George man, I drove for an hour to get here, and I can't wait to see your show.' I told him, 'Sorry, dude, we've just finished.' The guy just smiled at me and said, 'Oh, that's OK, I'll see you next year at the Tampa Theatre!'

"That told me something -- the guy had obviously looked forward to this all year, drove down here, missed the show, and was still ready to drive back again next year!"

Amid laughter, Thorogood added: "Hell, he didn't even see the show and was still happy .... now that's the kind of fans you want!"

It's that Everyman persona -- just a working-class kid from Delaware who made good -- that's been the bedrock of Thorogood's lengthy career.

A proponent and exponent of blues rock, Thorogood began as an opening act for many of the same blues legends whose songs he revered and still frequently performs.

"It was pretty amazing for me, early in my career, to be opening for guys like Howlin' Wolf, Albert Collins and Hound Dog Taylor," he says. "I mean, I was just happy that I got to see all these guys, let alone open for them."

But when pressed on which artists most shaped his musical persona and style, Thorogood quickly slips back into stand-up comic mode.

"Uh, well, it was around 1965 or so, and there was this one guy, not sure I can remember his name -- maybe you can help me here -- it . . . re -- it was like Mick Richards or Keith something or other," he deadpans.

Could he mean Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards?

"Yeah, that's the dude!" Thorogood exclaims. "And later, the cat who really got me focused was (blues guitarist) John Hammond. Like everybody else, there were three heavy influences on me in the '60s -- The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Stones.

"To me, The Beatles represented freedom, while Dylan represented truth. But even more important for a regular guy like me, the Stones represented hope. I could never do what The Beatles or Dylan did, but I thought maybe I could play the blues stuff the Stones did."

He quickly adds with a laugh, "and let's face it, Mick Jagger's a sex symbol, but hey, he's no Warren Beatty, right?"

Over the years, Thorogood has evolved his own distinct musical style, including a signature concert opening line -- a raucous "and awaaay we go!" -- that has its roots in the Sunshine State.

"I started doing that one night, in 1980, when I played the same Florida theater Jackie Gleason did his ('60s) TV show from (the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts in Miami Beach)," he said. "They gave me the same dressing room as him, and when I went on that night, I said, 'I just gotta say it!' And it's stuck ever since.

"Hey, it worked for him, and like I always say, steal from the best, baby!"

If James Brown holds the title of "hardest-working man in show business," Thorogood's a definite contender for the crown. Having performed more than 3,000 shows, The Destroyers also have the distinction of being the only rock band to have played 50 states in 50 days.

Even today, Thorogood maintains a grueling tour schedule, with 21 one-night stands slated for this month.

Asked why he'd schedule so many shows in such a short time, Thorogood initially provides a simple, one-word answer: "Money!" When pressed, however, his blue-collar roots re-emerge.

"Don't you work 21 days in a month?" he asks. "And sure, they're not all in the same place, but, really, how far away is Fort Myers from Tampa? Besides, it's not like I have to do the driving!"

A hardy laugh and an amicable "adios, partner!" later, Thorogood bids adieu.

And, once again, away he goes.