George Thorogood & The Destroyers: Still Bad to the Bone at Waterfest!
WHAT: George Thorogood & The Destroyers
WHERE: Waterfest Concert Series, Leach Amphitheater, Oshkosh WI
WHEN: Thursday, August 2, 2018
COST: General Admission before 7 PM $15
General Admission after 7 PM $20
Reserved VIP $45
Gates Open at 5:45 PM
Delaware native George Thorogood is famous for his blistering slide guitar and let’s-get-this-party-started brand of rock ‘n’ roll. He remains a solid fan favorite with his raucous live performances. “Bad To the Bone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move It On Over,” “I Drink Alone,” “Get A Haircut,” and “Who Do You Love?” are his best known hits.
The Destroyers consist of Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar), and Buddy Leach (saxophone).
The band has garnered six gold and two platinum discs in its 40 year career.
Thorogood has said that the Beatles were a great influence on him and that George Harrison was his favorite. He proudly pointed out that their birthdays are only a day apart – his is February 24th and Harrison’s is February 25th.
Thorogood received the B.B. King Award at on July 1, 2017 at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. He is only the fifth winner of the prestigious award, joining previous award recipients, blues legends B.B. King, Charlie Musselwhite, Taj Mahal and James Cotton.
His long awaited solo debut album, Party Of One, was released on August 4, 2017.
• Thorogood played semi-professional baseball for a while. He also was on a softball team called the Vampires at one time with Alice Cooper.
• George Thorogood and the Destroyers played a marathon 50 states in 50 days. They first flew to Hawaii, then Alaska, then Oregon, and then traveled throughout the Lower 48 in a Checker Cab.
George Thorogood & The Destroyers will be bringing their “Rock Party Tour” to the Oshkosh Waterfest Concert Series on Thursday, August 2nd.
Recently Thorogood called me from parts undisclosed.
JS: Hi George. Where are you today?
GT: We swore an oath with the government not to give the whereabouts of our location. I’m a fugitive from injustice.
Jane, you’re up there in Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland, unlike America’s Disneyland. If you want some cheese and some beer, that’s the right state to go to. A state that has a football team where people own a piece of the action, the people own the team. That’s pretty cool. And consider a fan who’s out there when it’s only 8° and he doesn’t have a shirt on, with a piece of cheese on his head. Now that’s a hard-core fan right there.
JS: You started out playing acoustic guitar. What made you switch to electric?
GT: Peter Paul and Mary played acoustic guitar, Jimi Hendrix played electric guitar. I wanted electric guitar. Acoustic wasn’t in me. Playing an electric guitar with a band of a drummer and bass player, that’s what I was cut out for. I tried acoustic as a solo. I got some attention from some heavy hitters. But once I saw the Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter and John Hammond, people like that, things changed. You are rocking already but you gotta get a bass player and a drummer and start living in the 20th century. (Laughs)
JS: What is the history of your megahit “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”?
GT: I purchased a record, John Lee Hooker Live At The Cafe Au Go Go and that song was on it. I didn’t think much of it at the time. And the first time I saw John Lee Hooker he was playing at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York City in Greenwich Village. He did two sets. And this was in a time when people went to see blues people and everybody sat quietly like they were in a temple. They didn’t even breathe when they went to see Muddy Waters or Fred Mc Dowell or BB King. But when John Lee Hooker played, unlike any other blues artists, people were all on the dance floor dancing. And the song they were dancing to when he played it in both sets was “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” And all of the people dancing to that song were women. Bingo!
About two years later I was doing a gig with Sonny Terry. I still remembered that song. Brownie McGhee got up with just a harmonica player and played that song, “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and the whole dance floor was dancing. And they were all women. I said, I’m getting an electric guitar, a bass player, a drummer and I’m gonna learn that song first. I’m no dummy, Jane, okay? (Laughs) I witnessed the obvious.
JS: I have heard that you and the Destroyers were outlawed by the Madison Wisconsin City Council from ever playing there again on Halloween after you did two Halloween shows there. How did that happen?
GT: Madison is known as Mad City. We actually played there on Halloween on one occasion and played there a couple of other times. You know what Madison is like, especially during Halloween. That’s why they call it Mad City. So they said, “We don’t need George and his band to come here.” (Laughs) The place is crazy enough! So we play other places. We still love to play in Wisconsin. We could play in Madison, but they said, “Oh no, we’ll find someplace you can play.” We said, okay that’s fine. (Laughs) That’s a good trade-off. So we play Summerfest in Milwaukee, over in Oshkosh, Green Bay. It’s all good.
JS: Share the story of how you and the Destroyers played an incredible 50 states in 50 days.
GT: One of the places we played on that tour was Madison! (Laughs) Somebody mentioned we should play all 50 states on our next tour. We said okay but we didn’t know that the cat who suggested it didn’t mean for us to do them all with no nights off. He informed us of this two or three days into the tour. (Laughs) I was just glad we don’t have 200 states instead of 50. It was strange because one night we worked in a place in Arkansas called The Library that seated 125 people. The next night we played at the New Orleans Super Bowl that seated 80,000 people. So there was this big variation of places to play. We had to route it. We never worked the same kind of venue twice. We still never work the same kind of venue two nights in a row. (Laughs) Things haven’t changed much. Except we get a night off now and again.
JS: Talk about your work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
GT: It’s not really work. We got some T-shirts made up. We sell them at the shows and part of the proceeds of the shirts goes to the foundation for research.
JS: What made you decide to get involved?
GT: Why not? When I was a kid I read something Robert F. Kennedy said that gave me the chills. I’ve never forgotten it. He said, “People look at the world and say why. I look at the world and say why not?” I like that.
JT: Likewise, I’ve learned you have a soft spot in your heart for the plight of the homeless.
GT: Right now it’s more like an angry spot in my heart. We live in the most affluent country in the world and we spend a lot of time in California which is the richest state in the States. I see these people living like this and I think, there’s something wrong with the system on the planet. Something is out of balance here, some things out of whack. That human beings have to live like this. Now for some of them, it may be by choice, that’s one thing. But for others it’s not by choice. Something’s wrong somewhere, Jane. So I don’t have a soft spot anywhere. I’ve got more of an angry spot. We’re all human beings, you know, we’re all in it together.
Do you know that in Africa they have these tribes of apes where if a female ape gets sick the other apes in the tribe will take care of the ape’s children until she’s not sick anymore? Did you know that? So if animals can do that with each other why can’t human beings?
JS: I’d like to hear about your recent solo album, Party of One. What made you decide to put this out?
GT: it was long overdue. I was supposed to do that first back in the ‘70s and I wound up being with a band. Rounder Records and I just never got around to it. As time went on, I said everybody else puts out an unplugged record, like Clapton and so on. I said maybe it’s time I should do something like that. It was a good project to do. I mean how many records can you make about songs being bad or drinking or whatever? I said we’ve done all that. Let’s go for something that I haven’t done yet. And that was it. There will be no Party of One 2. It was hard enough just to put the One together.
JS: George, thank you for your time. Look forward to seeing you in Oshkosh at Waterfest.
GT: Thank you. Rock & roll never sleeps, it just passes out!
Photo credits: George Thorogood publicist