Courtesy American Blues Scene

George Thorogood was in rockin’ form for his June 23rd performance at Ravinia.

The Ravinia Music Festival located in Highland Park, Illinois (23 miles north of Chicago), is the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States. Outdoor concerts and performances are held every summer from June to September. George played in The Pavilion, a 3,400-seat roofed building. Spirits were high in the 36 acre park as people braved out the rain picnicking in the grass with their umbrellas. At 7pm, he opened with “Rock Party.”

For a man about to turn 70 he performs like a 30 year old. He has the energy of a King Cobra: extremely fast and agile, focused, precise, and intense. This energy came across in his second song, “Who Do You Love,” and remained throughout the show. He followed with “Shot Down” and “Night Time.” His fifth song “I Drink Alone,” put the hook, line, and sinker into the audience. He played the opening guitar riff, paused, and the band joined.

One of the most unique and creative parts of the show was at the beginning of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” He played the song solo for a minute while a purple stage light shined through his blue eyes. The audience went nuts. After “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” he played “You Talk Too Much” and “Haircut.”

Throughout “Gear Jammer,” George was laser-focused. He needed to be, as this was his first slide guitar song. With a mesmerizing left-handed pinky slide, “Bad to the Bone” erupted and the audience started dancing. Most of the audience started singing along. George originally wrote “Bad to the Bone” for Muddy Waters but Mud declined. He was going to then give the song to Bo Diddley, but Bo didn’t have a record deal at the time.

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Courtesy American Blues Scene

George Thorogood is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. His “high-energy boogie-blues” sound became a staple of 1980’s rock radio. His original songs include “Bad to the Bone,” and “I Drink Alone.” He has popularized “Move It on Over,” “Who Do You Love,” and “One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer.”

Brant Buckley:

Could you talk about your new Epiphone White Fang ES125 guitar? What made you want to have your own signature model?

George Thorogood:

It really wasn’t my idea. It came to us out of necessity. The Epiphone Company and people in our organization had been urging me to get new instruments. The ones I was using were completely worn out. It was costing us a fortune to repair them. Maintenance on the old instruments is expensive and they don’t make them anymore. They are very frail guitars and I have a pretty heavy attack on the guitar. They tend to wear out. It’s not like banging on a Les Paul or a Stratocaster.

The original new models didn’t work out. Epiphone ended up taking stock guitars from the line and altering them to my style. It made sense to me. It’s like a pair of pants but the cuffs are too long so you make alterations. Playing my Gibson is the equivalent to swinging the bat and the ball bounces into the stands for a ground rule double. When I play the Epiphone, I hit the ball into the upper deck for a grand slam home run. I went back to the Gibson for one night and I could tell from the response from the audience. It was good but not as good as the Epiphone model. I now use the Epiphone at all times.

What do you look for when choosing cover material? What tests do songs go through?

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For George Thorogood, bad is good. Good might be OK for some, but bad is his bread and butter. 

So if he tells you he's doing "bad," that's probably a good thing. He initially felt the title of the band's current tour, "Good to be Bad," was bad (in a bad way), but one of his crew members helped him see the good in it. 

"He said, 'The word bad has done very good for you, George,'" Thorogood said in a phone interview. "I thought, 'Yeah, he's got a point.'" 


Billy Blough has been the bass player for George Thorogood and The Destroyers since 1976. Bill and Lowell talk about how he joined the band back in the day, touring with the Rolling Stones, life on the road and so much more!

Click here to listen.