fountainhead: July 2008 Archives

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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."

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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.

Thorogood guests on new Elvin Bishop album

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June 19, 2008 , 1:10 PM ET

Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Elvin Bishop gets a hand from B.B. King, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, James Cotton, George Thorogood, Kim Wilson and Tommy Castro on his new album, "The Blues Roll On." The set is due Sept. 23 via Delta Groove/Eclecto Groove Music.

Trucks and Haynes guest on Bishop's vintage '70s hit "Struttin' My Stuff." Elsewhere, Bishop takes on Junior Wells' "Come on in This House," Hound Dog Taylor's "Send You Back to Oklahoma" and "Yonders Wall" from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Among the original songs on the album, which was recorded in Jacksonville, Fla., Clarksdale, Miss., and a cruise ship, are "Oklahoma," which Bishop handles solo.

"The Blues Roll On" is the follow-up to 2005's "Gettin' My Groove Back," which reached No. 9 on Billboard's Top Blues Albums chart.