Interviews: May 2004 Archives

liveDaily Interview: George Thorogood

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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.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Interviews category from May 2004.

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