A little bewildered, amused and stunned is how you feel after getting off the phone with George Thorogood, probably the exact same feeling he wants his audiences to have.
Although, that will be up to the fans.
“You are playing for different people every night so it has got to be a different show,” said Thorogood who was sitting on his tour bus doing the interview by phone, from a location he did not want to divulge. “If it is a quiet crowd it will be a quiet show, if it is a loud crowd expect it to be loud with a lot of energy. You never know until you get out there and start strumming away.”
Thorogood is a road warrior. For 35 years, blues and rock and roll have kept Thorogood and the Destroyers cruising all over the world performing. In 1980 they played 50 states in the span of 50 days. Having tripped around most parts of North America, Thorogood can rifle off almost all of the Canadian provinces, missing only the northern territories. He also can belt out a pretty mean rendition of Canada’s national anthem, which he offered over the phone “for no extra charge.”
While one can only imagine how dizzying it is spending night after night heading to the next gig, it is understandable why Thorogood’s down time is quite literally just that.
“The activity of getting 10-to-12 hours sleep is very underrated. With my time off what I do is rest, getting into a horizontal position as much as possible,” said Thorogood.
In fact, he even made up a little ditty about it mid-interview, a song he said he would call I Nap Alone.
“One chair, one sofa, one pullout,” he sings in his raspy voice to the tune of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer. “How does that sound? That sounds like my lifestyle to me. I’ll even put Nunavut in there somewhere.”
While most can rattle off the chorus to Bad to the Bone and Move It On Over, Thorogood has been essaying the Chess Records repertoire since his debut album in 1977. He has cut 18 Chess covers over the years, a label that was home to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.
It lit a fire for Thorogood and the Destroyers. Their latest album 2120 South Michigan Avenue just happens to be the Chicago address of the label. The catalog of music became the sources of Thorogood’s higher education in music.
2120 South Michigan Avenue isn’t just Thorogood’s salute to a great record label — it also pays homage to the tough, larger-than-life men who made the music.
“It was a lifestyle as well as an art form, as far as music goes,” Thorogood notes. “They were singing about what their life was like on a daily basis. Sonny Boy Williamson and Wolf and Muddy Waters – they didn’t think they were the baddest cats in the world, they knew they were the baddest cats in the world. They had to be, or they wouldn’t have survived. There’s nothing glamorous in it – that’s just the facts. They had to fight their way through on a daily basis just to keep their heads above water. That’s very clear in a lot of their songs.”
Through the entire project, Thorogood and the Destroyers attempted to put their own distinctive spin on the Chess material while maintaining fidelity to the originals.
“That’s a religion, and you’ve gotta do it right,” he said.
Thorogood also said he never gets tired of playing songs that he is most known for, or tired of rocking out for fans night after night. Just question him on how he is doing. “Bad,” he said.
“Yeah, like bad to the bone,” he said with a gravelly laugh.
Tickets to the George Thorogood and the Destroyers concert on May 20 are available at the SOEC box office, Wine Country Visitor Centre, by phone at 1-877-763-2849 or at www.valleyfirsttix.com.