The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








George Thorogood. Courtesy photo.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers 

When: Sunday, June 4, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $44.50-$64.50 at

Bad man
George Thorogood comes to Concord

By Michael Witthaus

 George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ June 4 show at Concord’s Capitol Center is part of their Rock Party tour, named for his forthcoming album, Party of One. Due for summer release, it’s Thorogood’s first solo effort and marks a return to the label that launched his career in the 1970s, Rounder Records. Thorogood called the mostly acoustic LP “long overdue” in a recent phone interview, saying it “should have been the first record I did, because a lot of people start that way — Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen — then move into the electric scene.”

A recent interview touched on a range of topics, from early success with obscure songs by American rock and blues heroes, to how many of his own hits were written with others in mind, including the career-defining “Bad to the Bone,” and why he stays energized entering his fifth decade of performing.
How are you motivated to keep playing; what makes it exciting? 
Numerous things — No. 1 is that it’s still fun. When that ends, you should hang it up, because that’s why you do it to begin with ... I always go with the three Ds: desire, demand and delivery. Do people still want to see us? … Are you still delivering as good as ever? Have you seen The Who or Tom Jones lately? Unbelievable! Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend couldn’t come up for air. As long as there is delivery there — you don’t want to rip people off, do you? 
Early on, you put your own stamp on overlooked songs you felt fans should know. What was your selection process? 
The Rolling Stones, John Hammond, Butterfield Band [and] people like that … did the same thing I did, or I did the same thing they did, I should say. What they did in the ’60s, I was doing in the early ’70s. But the list was kind of picked over and I found 20, 25 songs that I felt were good ones. I thought it would be great if other bands had done some of these songs — I would have loved to have heard Tom Waits or Elvin Bishop do “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” … when the first two albums came out, we made a lot of noise, because no one had ever heard those songs. Even some of the people who recorded them originally, they never remembered them. They said, “That sounds like me,” and I said “It is you — you did it back in ’61, don’t you remember?”
What are your memories of making the video for “Bad to the Bone?”
MTV was jumping all over the place and I just hooked up with a major label. This was my chance; the demand was bigger than the supply …I wanted to make it a card game, not a pool game — like Cincinnati Kid with Steve McQueen, and they said, no, we want to do pool like The Hustler with Paul Newman. I said, well one or the other is cool, it’s got that tongue in cheek macho thing … but I can’t shoot pool. You can fake it with cards. … A director gives you four aces, a close up and you’re done, but with pool it’s not quite that easy. 
How did Bo Diddly end up participating — was that your move? 
I can’t remember if I or the record label suggested him, but we wanted to make a mini movie [like] Magnificent Seven or Good, Bad and the Ugly, that kind of thing; the guy with the big reputation, the bad guy. Then the kid comes to town and shoots him down. Bo’s really into that thing and he totally ran with it, he loved the whole idea, wearing the sheriff’s hat and all that, western clothes. Bo Diddly is a gunslinger, right? 
Many of your own songs were envisioned for others — “I Drink Alone” for George Jones, “Bad to the Bone” for Muddy Waters or Bo Diddley — why did you try to give your best stuff away?
I like my material to have an air of familiarity when people hear it ... I heard another artist when I was putting it together; a lot of people do that. ... When the Beatles wrote “All I Gotta Do,” they were probably thinking the Everly Brothers, because it sounds like ‘em. I wrote “Oklahoma Sweetheart” and said, “we gotta get this to Merle Haggard.” That never happened — not any of them. I thought, “don’t people know I exist?
You’ve said only a few people are left doing what you do, naming ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Do you still feel that way? 
Billy Gibbons and I have a mutual understanding … we are from the same school. Johnny Winter, Billy and I did the same thing — we went crazy over Bo Diddly and Muddy Waters and formed a guitar style around those dudes. The thing that Billy’s got that I haven’t got is “LaGrange” and a beard … the farthest I ever got was “Move It On Over” and “Bad to the Bone,” which isn’t too bad [but] people will say, why didn’t I become as big as Billy Gibbons, and I’ll say, because “Legs” sold 15 billion records. It’s that simple, it’s not a mystery … but we stretched five songs over 40 years, and that in itself is a miracle. Everything has its place. 

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