George Thorogood: badass to the bone
Courtesy Goldmine Magazine
By Ray Chelstowski
This summer George Thorogood released his 16th studio album, “Party of One,” and his first back with Rounder Records. The album also establishes a first for “Lonesome George” in that it’s his first solo record without his legendary backing band, The Destroyers. Produced by longtime collaborator Jim Gaines, the record charts a historical walk through of the artists who have helped shape his career and whose music provides the underpinning to the cannon of one of rock’s most respected musicians.
Goldmine had the chance to speak with George about this record, the acts he admires most and his thoughts on rock ‘n’ roll’s historic past and uncertain future. With wit and an expansive understanding of rock’s rich history our conversation covered a good amount of ground and introduced us to his theories on everything from why we love electric guitar to something he calls “pulling off the trick.”
GOLDMINE: So I played a bunch of tracks from the new album for staffers in the office here and every one of us had the same impression almost immediately — we all said “it sure sounds like George is having a lot of fun.” What were you looking to accomplish with “Party Of One”? Was there any album that was the inspiration or sort of your guidepost for the record?
George Thorogood: When I started in the early ‘70s that was my “mo”… to do that first and then maybe later on move on to getting a rock band together like everybody else does — doing stuff on acoustic guitar, a solo album like Springsteen, and various others. But we kinda jump-started into the band thing and put the solo record on hold for a while. Rounder Records was very keen to do that, so was I. As you know we went our separate ways for a while and then when we got back together with them. We said, well, we think this is the time to do this. I also wanted to document the songs that I was doing at the time and include some that I had never recorded. And as we went along I said, let’s try to get one song at least from every artist that really meant something to me when I was just starting to learn the guitar, putting my solo act together — and lo and behold it kinda presented itself one song after another. We found a Johnny Cash song. We found a Hank Williams song. We even found a Dylan song. Those people as just as big an influence on me as say Robert Johnson, or John Lee Hooker, Hound Dog Taylor. So when we went in that direction that’s when it did become fun. Because I have been banging on Hooker, and Bo Didley, Chuck Berry and my own songs for so long that that’s where some of the fun came.
George Thorogood & The Destroyers @The Saban 09.22.17
Courtesy Jazz Weekly
While George Thorogood’s latest album is a solo project titled Party of One, the legendary guitarist made the guest list open ended for the fist pumping crowd at the Saban Theatre.
While Thorogood and his long time band of Destroyers are able to get the crowd on its feet and staying there for stomping boogies like “Rock Party” and “Get A Haircut,” what’s not appreciated about the six stringer is that he’s one of the last remaining bonafide torch carriers of the blues. He can growl with the best as his guitar wails on the ominously relentless “Who Do You Love” and makes you feel like you’re in a juke joint on the South Side of Chicago with “Help Me.”
In naval terms, a Destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long endurance warship, and Jeff Simon/dr, Billy Blough/b, Jim Suhler/g and Buddy Leach/ts-as have been together long enough to rock steady on the 60s classic “Night Time” or deliver a stark shuffle on “B.S. and Beer” with Leach knowing when to form a double team with the leader or sear through the groove on his own as on the greasy “Bad to the Bone.”
GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS-BAD TO THE BONE 35TH ANNIVERSARY
Coincidentally or intentionally, the thirty-fifth anniversary of George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ most popular song and album, August 1982’s Bad to the Bone, falls on the release of Thorogood’s earthy roots-and-branches new album Party of One . As you will hear below, George Thorogood never ceases to surprise in casual conversation, with an unguarded frankness that is refreshing in today’s “spin doctor Special Olympics”. For instance, I have interviewed literally hundreds of the greatest rock musicians, but George Thorogood is the only one who told me that he was planning to be a professional comedian, not a musician. And at the time of that 1978 second release Move It on Over , George actually delayed his tour because he was playing professional baseball, albeit an abbreviated season. But when he finally took his three-piece outfit on the road that year, nobody tore it up live on stage better than this guy, and Thorogood proved it time and again, most successfully in the studio with 1982’s Bad to the Bone.
George Thorogood throws rootsy Party of One on debut solo album
Courtesy The BluesPowR Blog
George Thorogood certainly isn’t the first rocker to make an album of all blues and roots music (see, for example, Big Head Todd & the Monsters, Gary Hoey, and this recent announcement from Black Stone Cherry), nor is he really the last you might expect to do so, considering the success he’s had over the years with his covers of songs like John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love?”, and Elmore James’ “Madison Blues”. But what might surprise some about Thorogood’s brand-new album is that he chose to record the project in the same manner in which he’s made it known he likes to drink: alone.
The first solo album of Thorogood’s more than 40-year career, Party of One marks a true back-to-the-roots approach for the singer and guitarist who has sold some 15 million albums worldwide and performed more than 8,000 live shows, not only in that Thorogood began his career as a solo acoustic musician, but also in both his return to Rounder Records, the label on which Thorogood first signed back in 1976 and recorded his first three hit albums, and reunion with producer Jim Gaines (John Lee Hooker, Luther Allison, Stevie Ray Vaughan), who produced several of Thorogood’s earlier albums.