George Thorogood graced us with an incredible performance for "Live @ 5" and performed three of his classic songs. Put your feet up, grab a bourbon, and rock out with us!

Pictured with George Thorogood Q104.3's Ken Dashow

Courtesy - OnMilwaukee.com
By Larry Widen

georgethorogoodinterview fullsize story1
Not only is George Thorogood the undisputed king of bone-crunching guitar chords, he's got a booming, sandpapery Noo Yawk voice that's great for stopping a midtown Manhattan cab in its tracks. "Howayah," he said in our recent interview, leaving me to wonder if we were going to discuss rock and roll or the 50th state.

Thorogood, now in his 40th year of performing, exuded a youthful enthusiasm as he talked about racing down the rock highway with his foot firmly on the gas. The 64-year-old guitarist laughed when asked how he's able to play high-voltage shows – such as the one coming up on Monday, June 8 at the Riverside Theater – night after night after all these years.

"Are you kidding me?" he says. "I save everything I've got for the shows. If you come to the dressing room, you'll see that I'm horizontal right up until the last minute." Then, Thorogood says, he goes out and gives it everything he's got.

But with thousands of shows in his rear view mirror, an iconic song ("Bad to the Bone") to his credit and album sales topping 15 million worldwide, what does he need to prove? "Absolutely nothing," Thorogood says. "I just try and keep my feet on the ground … as opposed to going in the ground!" During our interview, Thorogood and I talked about his musical influences, opening for the Rolling Stones and more.

OnMilwaukee.com: Was there anyone in your life who encouraged you to follow your dream instead of taking the easier, safer way?

George Thorogood: Yes, there was. Me. I'm a very self-motivated person. By the time I was 15 years old, I'd heard John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer," and I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I actually did take the easy way, because I never had any doubt that I would be earning my living singing and playing the guitar. What I didn't know was how successful I would become, the level I'd attain. I just knew that my place in the world was with music.

Courtesy - The Baltimore Sun

Brian Setzer hunched over his boxy Gretsch hollowbody – feet spread, hair hanging over his eyes – and pulled out a twangy burst of notes. His hot Rockabilly Riot band – second guitar, standup bass and drums – thumped a freight train rhythm. “Blue Moon of Kentucky” was leaving the station, and all four players were grinning as they hung on for dear life.

Boy, did they seem to be enjoying themselves.

Setzer, the rockabilly-reviving Stray Cat of the '80s and swinging orchestra leader of the ’90s, has been commanding stages around the world for 35 years. Elvis Presley’s recording of “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” the model for Setzer’s performance, is more than 60 years old, and the Bill Monroe original is older still.

But so fervently did Setzer and his band pound out the standard Sunday night at Pier Six Pavilion, where they were first up in a double bill with George Thorogood & The Destroyers, that they made it utterly new. It was like that throughout a 14-song set of rockabilly covers and originals: Men playing like a gang of teenaged boys, scarcely able to contain their glee as they conspired to unleash a secret new sound  on an unsuspecting audience – a sound they knew was going to slay the crowd.

And it did. Setzer is a rockabilly polyglot, fluent in the styles of Scotty Moore, Cliff Gallup and Carl Perkins, among other masters, and facile in country, jazz, surf, rock and shred. He drew on all of them to rev new life into “Great Balls of Fire,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Rock This Town.”

Other highlights included his solo interpretation of “Sleep Walk,” the 1959 lullaby by Santo and Johnny, turned inside-out with cascading arpeggios; the haunted house riffs with which he opened “Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)”; and “Fishnet Stockings,” with a cute quotation from “Rock Around the Clock.”

What Setzer is to rockabilly, Thorogood is to the electric blues of John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf and others: A guitar-blazing revivalist whose enthusiasm and showmanship make the music fresh. On Sunday, he dropped a swampy, tremolo-drenched E, let it throb, declared “And away we go,” and launched into his definitive take on Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love.”

Thorogood, from Wilmington, Del., is something of a local act; he managed to work Eutaw Street and other Baltimore references into the music. He has a great, rubbery face – he looked at times a little like a bigger, tougher Mick Jagger – and appeared to have a great time leering, preening and popping his eyes at his often off-color commentary.

If you see Thorogood – and you should, he’s great fun – take a look at his right hand. Instead of using a flat pick, like virtually everyone else, Thorogood sort of rubs the strings of his Gibson hollowbody with his fingertips. It’s odd to see, and a difficult way to generate power, but power wasn’t a problem Sunday, as he worked the Destroyers through the pile-driving “I Drink Alone,” “Get A Haircut” and “Gear Jammer.”

The Destroyers, a couple of whom have been with Thorogood since the '70s, were as tight as ever; particularly satisfying was the guitar version of the Strangeloves’ 1965 garage stomper “Night Time,” which hit like a punch in the face.

destroyer lymphoma front
George Thorogood is proud to announce his partnership with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), to help destroy blood cancers. 

Because of his strong connection, George is proud to support LLS in its goal to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. 100% of the net proceeds raised through the sales of the Destroyers blood cancer t-shirt will be donated to LLS to help advance breakthrough therapies for blood cancer patients.  LLS is saving lives not someday, but today. 

The shirt will be available at live shows and also in Thorogood's online store.  Click here to purchase.

We have one goal: A world without blood cancers.


About The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society® (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. The LLS mission: Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and multiple myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world, provides free information and support services, and is the voice for all blood cancer patients seeking access to quality, affordable, coordinated care.  

 

Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more, destroyer lymphoma back copyvisit www.LLS.org.   Patients should contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.