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George Thorogood and the Destroyers

By: Lori Smerilson Carson

Music makes the world go around and when you know it’s your destiny, you end up writing and recording world-wide recognized songs. That is of course, if you’re Guitarist/Singer/Songwriter George Thorogood. It all started in 1973 when this extraordinarily talented musician teamed up with Drummer Jeff Simon to become The Destroyers, which then led to releasing their debut album GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS in 1977. Now decades later, they are still going strong with GEORGE THOROGOOD and THE DESTROYERS Live in Boston 1982: The complete concert released in 2020, and THE ORIGINAL GEORGE THOROGOOD released in 2022. Thorogood, Simon and bandmates Bassist Bill Blough, Guitarist Jim Suhler, and Saxophonist Buddy Leach are currently hitting the road with their Bad All Over the World – 50 Years of Rock Tour, and Florida fans will have the opportunity to experience this amazing show on October 28th at The Sound in Clearwater, October 29th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and on November 1st at Hard Rock Live in Orlando.

Catching up with Thorogood just prior to the start of their tour, he revealed some details about the new show, their music, past experiences and what fans can look forward to.

SFL Music: Hello George. How are you?
George Thorogood: Bad to the bone!

SFL Music: That’s perfect! How did this Bad All Over the World – 50 Years of Rock Tour come about and what can fans look forward to?
Thorogood: Well, there’s at least one or two songs that are still in the line-up after fifty years (he laughed). There’s two of ‘em that just won’t seem to go away. We started the band around the song “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”. That was the song that kicked off the whole thing. It’s still in demand today. We figured from day one, we knew we had a winner. So, we’ll keep that one in the line-up.

SFL Music: So, fans can look forward to a lot of songs from The Destroyers catalogue including your solo album (PARTY OF ONE released in 2017)?
Thorogood: There’s not time for that kind of thing, Lori. We’re real limited amount of time. We’re in for seventy-five to ninety minutes and you can’t cram fifty years of material into ninety minutes. That’s just not possible, for any band. So, we have to be very selective and at the same time keep in mind, number one in mind, what the fans are paying money to hear. That’s number one, and some of them, can we still play ‘em and I don’t mean just be able to play them, but be able to play them really good. You don’t want to go out there without putting your best foot forward. You know what I’m saying?

SFL Music: Yes. I know it will be an awesome show. Another thing about this tour, and I’m so sorry for your loss, but it’s wonderful that funds will be put toward a memorial for your wife. The Marla Thorogood Memorial Fund for Ovarian Cancer Research in alliance with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Thorogood: Yeah, we’re involved with that.

SFL Music: How did that come to be?
Thorogood: Well actually, my daughter set it up. It’s her project. She did that. We were recently in Nashville doing a fundraiser, and she accepted an award and gave a nice speech. Hopefully we’ll raise some money. I would like to just get a general fund for all cancers. I mean, as my daughter once put it, it’s an epidemic. It’s just as common as getting a cold nowadays. That’s just how bad it is. Every buck helps, Lori!

SFL Music: It definitely does! So, funds are going toward research for cures and that type of thing? Is that your goal?
Thorogood: Yeah. I mean, it’s every disease. Isn’t that the goal? To get the planet as healthy as possible and keep it healthy.

SFL Music: True. Being on tour is rigorous. Is there anything in particular you guys do to stay healthy? Many musicians have work out routines.
Thorogood: Get yourself on a horizontal position as often as possible.

SFL Music: I know you all started in 1973. What inspired you to become a musician? How did you know that this was what you wanted to do?
Thorogood: Well, for one thing, I can’t do anything else. I have no education outside of high school. I had no other interests. The only thing I knew anything about, and even that was limited. My parents came to me after I was out of high school a couple years and just said, “when are you gonna do this? You know you can’t work” and they were right. I’m not adapt to those kinds of things. Performing on a band stand and music and all that just came very natural to me. They said, “all you have to do is learn how to play music” (he laughed). Like, that was an afterthought. “You got the other part of it covered.” So, it was a no brainer for me from day one.

SFL Music: Did you take formal lessons?
Thorogood: Nah, not really. No. It’s the style. You take formal lessons when you’re studying at the Berklee School of Jazz or The Juilliard School of Music or something like that. There’s no school for playing like Jimi Hendrix or Robert Johnson. You just do it. We call it informal schooling.

SFL Music: It works, right?
Thorogood: Well, I’m still making a living at so, I don’t know.

SFL Music: You (and The Destroyers) have released a total of over twenty plus albums, two that went Platinum and six Gold. You’ve sold over fifteen million records worldwide. What would you say is the secret to your success?
Thorogood: You can’t really pin it down to one thing. I really think that the secret to anybody’s success in this line of work is your material. You can be the greatest musician in the world, the greatest singer, but if you don’t have tunes or a tune that people remember, you’re gonna have a hard time getting by. I mean, Miles Davis (III) can stand on the bandstand without knowing any of the songs or Leonard Bernstein, and just play, but when it gets to notoriety, its signature songs. That’s really where it’s at. I mean, even Helen Reddy said she went through thirty songs before she came up with a hit to get her career off the ground. The Beatles were doing all covers, and George Martin encouraged them to record “Please Please Me” which became a number one hit. So, the success of any group is basically pretty much your catalogue, your tunes, with the exception of maybe Frank Zappa.

SFL Music: Why is he the exception?
Thorogood: Because he’s a brilliant musician. He doesn’t need hits. You think of Van Morrison, you think of “Moon Dance”. You think of “Bown Eyed Girl”. You think of “Gloria”. Look at all the signature tunes The Stones have. One right after another. “A Boy Named Sue” is the most popular song in the world. You take away ‘Bourbon, Scotch and Beer’, “Bad to the Bone” and Move It On Over” from Thorogood, what do you got? Nothing (he laughed)!

SFL Music: What inspired those songs? What inspires you when you write (songs like “Bad to the Bone” and “I Drink Alone”)?
Thorogood: Well, I don’t really write so to speak. What I do is, we go after songs and try to write something that we know will connect with our fans. I knew from day one, my voice wasn’t gonna make anybody forget about Rod Stewart or Roger Daltrey or Beverly Sills, and my guitar playing wasn’t ever going to catch up with Jeff Beck, not that anybody can. I knew if we was gonna make a mark, it would be the songs that was selected, whether we wrote them or not. That’s what we go with. I said, this one will go over with the fans. These are songs people would like to hear and I would always say this. If we don’t record ‘Bourbon, Scotch and Beer’ somebody else will. If I don’t write “Bad to the Bone” somebody else will. It’s so obvious, Lori. We’re nothing if we’re not obvious. I always say, we better get a hurry and write “Bad to the Bone” because anybody can write that. Only one person can write “Like a Rolling Stone”, ok. So, that’s really the motivation for us. Keep the tunes coming. I had a cat once, a brilliant guitar player. We used to open for his band, and then years went by and his band started opening for us and he was a little bit perturbed about this. He said, “Thorogood. Why am I opening for you? You know I play better than you.” And I go well, I’ll tell you three reasons why we’re doing what we’re doing and you’re not doing it your way. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, “Bad to the Bone” and “Move It On Over”. There’s three reasons right there. How’s that (he laughed)?

SFL Music: What would you recommend to a new musician or a new band?
Thorogood: I would recommend, stay away from tobacco, fried food and stay out of Italian cars.

SFL Music: That’s good advice. I read you also partner with The Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Musically Fed to feed veterans, homeless and food insecure people nationwide. How did you get involved?
Thorogood: Well, it’s just a natural thing. I mean, Barbara Streisand gives wings to hospitals. We all do what we can.

SFL Music: What prompted you to get involved with these particular organizations though?
Thorogood: Its necessary.

SFL Music: Is there a goal that you have with helping these organizations?
Thorogood: Well, look at it this way. If you’re helping out the Cancer Society or The Leukemia Foundation, or St Jude’s Hospital, whatever. If one of these kids walks away cancer free at the age of nine or ten years old, maybe that kid will grow up and go to medical school and cure cancer someday. How about that? It’s an investment for the future. I mean, that’s what it’s about, isn’t it?

SFL Music: Yes, definitely. Are there going to be any new videos or anything else for fans to look forward to?
Thorogood: You never know. You keep your options open. You never know when some wild idea might jump out of your brain, or it might be some wild idea somebody else lays on you and said, we’d like you to do this. So, it’s all an adventure. You know what I’m saying, Lori? It’s all an adventure, and a never ending one, I hope.

SFL Music: Is there going to be new music in the future?
Thorogood: You never know. At this point, you don’t really plan something like that, it kind of happens. When you’re starting out, you have a plan. You have a catalogue of songs you want to record and things you want to do. You know, before Hank Williams stepped into a recording studio, he’d written fifty, sixty, seventy songs. So, he was ready, you know what I mean? So, as time goes on, I don’t want to say you exhaust that, but when you’re playing you used to say, well if I could just sustain what I already have, great! If we can move on from that, even better.

SFL Music: Was there anything else you want fans to know about the show?
Thorogood: It will be the most unbelievable fantastic thing they have ever experience in their existence!

Give my best to the sunshine state!

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