fountainhead: August 2006 Archives

Thorogood brings hit streak to Arnolds Park

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By Jesse Claeys Journal staff writer

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

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

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

But everything seems to eventually come full circle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George remains good at being bad

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By Deanna Dowlin, Journal Staff Writer

As one might expect, George Thorogood is definitely bad to the bone, just as his music proclaims. But what you might not expect is his softer side

20th Annual Wetzel swap meet and party

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Thorogood, Nugent set to take the stage
BY CINDY WOOD

Times Bulletin Editor

cwood@timesbulletin.com

He is "bad to the bone" and the first to admit it. Confident, but far from conceited, George Thorogood has sustained himself in an industry that spits musicians out like bad apples.

Although his music is arguably not the most popular, it is immensely enjoyed by legions of fans around the globe.

This weekend, it will be enjoyed by thousands at the 20th Annual Wetzel swap meet and party. "You gotta have good tunes to begin with," Thorogood told the Times Bulletin during a recent interview. "If you have no tunes, then you have nothing. What if Joan Jett had never done the song, 'I Love Rock 'n Roll? Of course, there are different avenues of exposure and who knows where we'll be 10 years from now. They might be dropping cd's out of helicopters by then. I don't really know what the next phase will be."

But he does know where he's been. Thorogood was born Dec. 24, 1950 in Wilmington, Delaware. Ironically, he felt most at home with a baseball bat, and not a guitar, in his hands. He spent a short while playing in the minor leagues before a John Paul Hammond concert lured the musician to the world of rock and roll.

The rest, as they say, is musical history.The band's first release of demos in 1979, the "Better Than the Rest" project, quickly caught on and the group secured a contract with Rounder Records. After their debut in 1977, the group released "Move it on Over" in 1978, its success based partly on continuous FM airplay. In 1982, the group, now signed with EMI records, released "Bad to the Bone" which still remains a jukebox favorite today.

It was during the '80s when Thorogood and the Destroyers' popularity exploded. Some of that success, Thorogood said, came from simply being in the right place at the right time. "It's all about timing. Everything is about timing," he said. In 1982, a then-unknown phenomenon called MTV hit the airwaves, and Thorogood was more than happy to jump on board. "We got in on the ground floor with our 'Bad to the Bone' video," Thorogood said. After running his course with MTV, Thorogood received heavy airplay from classic rock radio, which helped to sustain the group over time.

"When MTV sold out to larger corporations, this new phenomenom called classic rock radio began, so we had a few songs get in on the infancy of that." Thorogood's wildly-popular "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" was a favorite on FM radio, and remains a fan favorite today, something that doesn't surprise Thorogood at all. "Between classic rock, MTV and FM radio, we just kept popping up and stayed in the public eye," Thorogood said. "But had those things not existed, I don't think I would be around right now. If you have a song or two that fits any of those formats, you can make a living. Add to that, the fact that I am the greatest, not to mention the most modest," Thorogood quipped.

His sense of humor helps him unwind during extensive tours across the globe. His current tour will take the rocker all around the world, and coincidentally, right here in our own backyard.

Among his stops is a performance at the 20th Annual Wetzelland party. He's looking forward to an outrageous show, he said.

"I am merely the waiter, and you all have the menu," he said. "I just come to the table and say this is what's on the menu, and you let me know what you want to hear. Fair enough?" he said. "You can expect classic George Thorogood and his legion of immortals to ride in and Ohio will never be the same. That's essentially why people hire us. It's really not too bad to get paid to have a good time. It's a good job to have."

Never out to prove anything to anyone, Thorogood said he was satisfied when he realized he could make a living in music. "I was just trying to get a job," he said. "I guess if I had to prove anything, it was that I could make a living doing this, and I can continue to do that. If I can sustain another five years, then I guess I did alright." As a matter of fact, Thorogood has done better than fine. With 19 albums under his belt and legions of die-hard fans, Thorogood is a true rock 'n roller, and has every intention of staying that way.

He's gearing up for a rockin' time at Wetzelland, and until then..."Wop Bop a loo Bop, keep it down and keep it cool people."

Thorogood classics keep fans coming back

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By Alan Sculley
For the Tribune-Review
Thursday, July 20, 2006

Though George Thorogood's newest CD, "The Hard Stuff," came out in May, he ponders what has to be a question most veteran musicians and bands ask when their run of hit songs and popular CDs has run dry.

Thorogood is considering at what point should he just not bother making and releasing new music and instead just rely on his catalog to make up the set list for his live shows, including Wednesday's performance at the Pepsi Cola Roadhouse in Burgettstown.

After all, he says, his fans come to hear him play his signature hits, which he knows is a common experience for any artist fortunate enough to have had a 30-year career like his. And in reality, he says, can the new songs even compete with the more familiar material?

"I don't mind hearing new stuff if the new stuff is good," Thorogood says. "But if it's not good, then I just want to hear the old stuff. John Fogerty is going to be very hard pressed to write any more songs that are as good as 'Fortunate Son' and 'Green River' and 'Old Man Down The Road.' He's hard act to follow. He's trying to follow himself.


"I'm just making a point that every artist gets to that point eventually," he says. "I've seen Paul McCartney three times. I can't remember one song besides 'Freedom' that he did that was off his latest record. I remember all the other (famous) ones."

At this point, Thorogood knows he had a half-dozen to 10 songs that fans want him to play at each show -- such as "Move It On Over," "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" and "Bad To The Bone." But his newer material -- such as songs from his most recent studio CD, 2003's "Ride 'Til I Die" -- hasn't caught on to where fans demand to hear those songs alongside the classics.

With these comments, it would be easy to assume Thorogood is frustrated with his career and the music business.

That, actually, didn't seem to be the case, as he says he enjoys playing live more than ever. And the truth is that when he started out, he not only never envisioned anything resembling a long-term career, he was barely looking beyond the next gig -- even when he signed with Rounder Records, a Boston-based label that specialized in folk music -- in the mid-1970s.

"I had an idea that it would just, I was going to do a four-record deal with Rounder," Thorogood says. "I was going to do two studio albums, a live album and an all-acoustic album, a solo album, which I have yet to do. And then I was just going to take whatever notoriety I had and I was going to come to like California and try to get small bit parts in movies or something. Small parts, not leading parts, not like Elvis Presley did. I'm talking about just small parts and then maybe just play music on the side. It just didn't work out that way."

Instead, "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," a song written by blues great John Lee Hooker, became a radio hit in 1975 and put Thorogood on the map. Then when he scored another hit with his rocking version of the Hank Williams song "Move It On Over" in 1978, Thorogood's career was off and running -- and ready for full takeoff just four years later when "Bad To The Bone" arrived.

Thorogood remained on a roll well into the 1980s before his success leveled off. Still he managed to see several more songs become staples of his live set -- such as the aforementioned "If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave)" from 1991 and "Get A Haircut" from 1993. In 2003, when he reached the 30th anniversary of his first gig with his backing band, the Destroyers, he still had the comfort of knowing he remains a strong live draw.

He marked that milestone by releasing a 16-song anothology, "Greatest Hits: 30 Years Of Rock," and a live DVD, "30th Anniversary Tour: Live," which captured a full-length concert in England.

Thorogood is willing to hype his newest CD release -- a little bit, anyway. After jokingly saying it would be the most revolutionary rock album since the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," he finally acquiesced just a bit.

"It's Thorogood at his usual," he says. "It's dirty, rough, straight-from-the-shoulder, you know, like they say, every Woody Allen movie is different, but they're all the same."