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The Bad to the Bone singer-guitarist, who will play March 26 in the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, is descended from Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker and British blues-rock guitarists. He picked four albums' worth of music by three musicians and one "essential song":
The Complete Recordings (boxed set), Robert Johnson: "If you don't listen to that, that's like saying, 'I like acting, but I don't care for On the Waterfront.' . . . (Johnson) is what it's all based on."
The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions , Howlin' Wolf with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ringo Starr and Ian Stewart: "It's essential only for the fact that you've got one of the highest-profile bluesmen of all time with some of the greatest rock musicians in the world. It's a fantastic record."
Live at the Regal , B.B. King: "To talk about essential blues, somewhere along the line you've got to mention B.B. King. I'm not even that big a fan of his style, but he's as essential to blues as Johnny Cash is to country."
Something Inside Me (song), Elmore James: "It's got to be the greatest blues song I've ever heard. I've never heard anybody sing blues like Elmore James. It's chilling to listen to that man's vocals."
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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.'"
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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.
"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.
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Legend shaped rock and roll, rocker says
DEAN LISK, METRO HALIFAX
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.’”
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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.”
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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.”
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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."
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Posted by Mary Colurso March 16, 2008 5:00 AM
George Thorogood conducts interviews much as he performs in concert -- bluntly and aggressively, with deceptively casual skill and a self-deprecating sense of humor.
George Thorogood returns to Birmingham tonight for a concert at the Alabama Theatre. The "blooze and boogie" musician last performed here in 1999 at Five Points South Music Hall. Ask the veteran blues-rocker a question about his career and he usually responds with a joke, or a snarky quip that seems designed to throw the listener off balance.
Is he nasty? Nice? Or as his famous song says, "Bad to the Bone"? Let's just say no one can take the measure of a man from one 20-minute conversation.
Thorogood, who'll perform tonight in Birmingham, certainly has earned his reputation as a hard-working singer and guitarist. His credits include several radio hits ("Move It On Over," "Who Do You Love," "Get a Haircut," "I Drink Alone," "You Talk Too Much") and more than 30 years of consistent touring.
Q: Do you care about your image as a hard-rocking guy, maybe one who'd break a beer bottle over somebody's head?
A: Who thinks that? I'm a peaceful man. Violence is old-fashioned. You can't get any chicks that way.
Q: Well, do you think rock musicians need a certain attitude, along with musical skills?
A: Sure, I've got an attitude, that I'm the greatest rock 'n' roll player on the planet. People don't step on stage and be humble. The audience doesn't want that. They don't want you to be arrogant, either.
Q: People don't usually think of you as a family man. Does your 9-year-old daughter, Rio, think you're a cool dad?
A: She thinks I'm about the coolest guy she's ever known. She has a shirt that says, "My dad rocks." You can't make your children dig you. It's like a bonus to me that my daughter thinks I'm groovy. I just want her to be healthy.
Q: You've had great success with your cover of Hank Williams' "Move it On Over." Ever think about doing an entire of album of Hank Williams songs?
A: I don't know if that would be appropriate. I may do one more (Hank Williams cover). But I really don't like going to the studio. If I'm going to the studio, it's 100 percent for professional reasons. Eric Clapton did an album of all Robert Johnson stuff; that was personal. I think Hank's songs are too painful. I share pleasure, not pain.
Q: You don't write many songs, but have said you like to cover material written by others, especially obscure blues. How do you know if a song is right for you?
A: I like the funny ones. I like to make 'em laugh and make 'em dance at the same time. Usually, I pick something that's not difficult to sing and has a good piece of humor in it, a tongue-in-cheek machismo. It's like an actor taking the right part. Woody Allen does not make Westerns.
Q: People say you're a big Bob Dylan fan. How do you feel about performing his songs?
A: My style is a little bit rough when it comes to bad Bob. He's the king, as far as I'm concerned. I don't have the right touch. It takes a unique artist to take Dylan's stuff and do it justice. Jimi Hendrix did it with one song ("All Along the Watchtower"). Isn't that enough?
Q: Don't you have a good story about a Dylan encounter backstage?
A: When I met him, I kept calling him "bad Bob." I said, "I have one word; you have many words." I told him, "You are the baddest." And he said, "You're the worst." So I've been dubbed the worst by the best.
Q: Rumor has it that you've been working on an acoustic album. Is that true?
A: I've been working on that since 1971.
Q: You recently had a birthday. How do you feel about being 58?
A: I'm not 58. I'm 28. I've got no time to know how old I am. I'm out there layin' it down. Ask Little Richard how old he is, and he doesn't know. He's too busy being Little Richard, you know?
Q: Before you hang up, can you talk about your memories of playing in Birmingham?
A: All of them good.
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By PETE TATTERSALL
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."
Rollingstone.com describes him as "one of the preeminent jukebox heroes," while allmusic.com 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:
"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?"
"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."
"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'd say, 'Bob, I can do what you do, but you could never do what I do.'
Where did you grow up?
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."