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Thorogood performing at the Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ontario (2006)
February 24, 1950 |
|Genres||Blues rock, boogie rock, blues, rock and roll, hard rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica|
|Labels||EMI, Eagle, Rounder, MCA, CMC|
|Associated acts||The Delaware Destroyers|
George Thorogood (born February 24, 1950) is an American musician, singer and songwriter from Wilmington, Delaware. His "high-energy boogie-blues" sound became a staple of 1980s rock radio, with hits like his original songs "Bad to the Bone" and "I Drink Alone". He has also helped popularize older songs by American icons, such as "Move It on Over," "Who Do You Love?" and "House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", which became staples of classic rock radio.
With his band, the Delaware Destroyers, Thorogood has released over 20 albums, of which two have been certified Platinum and six have been certified Gold. He has sold 15 million albums worldwide. Thorogood and band continue to tour extensively and in 2014 celebrated their 40th anniversary performing.
Thorogood began his career in the early 1970s as a solo acoustic performer in the style of Robert Johnson and Elmore James after being inspired by a John P. Hammond concert. However, he soon formed a band, the Delaware Destroyers, with a high school friend, drummer Jeff Simon. With additional players they developed their own sound, a mixture of Chicago blues and rock and roll. Their first shows were in the Rathskeller at the University of Delaware and at the Deer Park Tavern. Eventually, they shortened the band's name to The Destroyers.
Thorogood's demo, Better Than the Rest, was recorded in 1974, but was not released until 1979. His major recording debut came in 1976 with the album George Thorogood & The Destroyers, which was released in 1977. In 1978, Thorogood released his next album with the Destroyers titled Move It on Over, which included a remake of Hank Williams' "Move It on Over". "Please Set a Date" and their reworking of the Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love?" both followed in 1979. The band's early success contributed to the rise of folk label Rounder Records.
In the early 1970s, Thorogood supplemented his income by working as a roadie for Hound Dog Taylor. During the late 1970s, Thorogood and his band were based in Boston. He was friends with Jimmy Thackery of the Washington, D.C.-based blues band, The Nighthawks. While touring in the 1970s, the Destroyers and the Nighthawks happened to be playing shows in Georgetown at venues across the street from each other. The Destroyers were engaged at The Cellar Door and the Nighthawks at Desperados. At midnight, by prior arrangement, while both bands played Elmore James' "Madison Blues" in the same key, Thorogood and Thackery left their clubs, met in the middle of M Street, exchanged guitar patch cords and went on to play with the opposite band in the other club. The connection with the Nighthawks was extended further, when Nighthawks bass player Jan Zukowski supported Thorogood's set at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 1985.
Thorogood gained his first mainstream exposure as a support act for The Rolling Stones during their 1981 U.S. tour. He also was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live (Season 8, Episode 2) on the October 2, 1982 broadcast. During this time, Thorogood and the Destroyers also became known for their rigorous touring schedule, including the "50/50" tour of 1981, on which the band toured all 50 US states in the space of 50 days. After two shows in Boulder, Colorado, Thorogood and his band flew to Hawaii for one show and then performed a show in Alaska on the following night. The next day the band flew to Washington State, met their roadies who had their Checker car and a truck, and continued a one show per state tour for all fifty states in exactly fifty nights. In addition, they played Washington, D.C. on the same day that they performed a show in Maryland, thereby playing 51 shows in 50 days.
This increased visibility occurred as Thorogood's contract with Rounder Records expired. He signed with EMI America Records and in 1982 released the song, "Bad to the Bone", and an album of the same name. The song has been used frequently in television and film, including the television drama Miami Vice, the sci-fi thriller Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the animated cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks, the comedies Problem Child, and Problem Child 2, Stephen King's Christine, and many episodes of the television sitcom Married... with Children. The track was also used during the intro to the movie Major Payne and in the 1988 drama film Talk Radio. The song is also featured in the game Rock 'n Roll Racing. It is also played during football pregame festivities at Mississippi State University and at USHRA Monster Jam events to introduce Grave Digger (regardless of driver). "Bad to the Bone" was used for the 1984 Buick Grand National advertisements. Thorogood's version of "Who Do You Love?" is played in all Samuel Adams beer commercials.
In 2012, Thorogood was named one of The 50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years.
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- George Thorogood – lead vocals and lead guitar
- Jeff Simon – drums, percussion (1973–present)
- Billy Blough – bass guitar (1976–present)
- Jim Suhler – rhythm guitar (1999–present)
- Buddy Leach – saxophone, piano (2003–present)
- Ron "Roadblock" Smith – rhythm guitar (1973–1980)
- Hank "Hurricane" Carter – saxophone (1980–2003)
- Steve Chrismar – rhythm guitar (1985–1993)
George Thorogood and The Destroyers use a variety of instruments and equipment. Thorogood usually plays a Gibson ES-125, as well as Gibson Les Paul solids and hollow bodies. In his early days he also used Fender Stratocasters a lot as well, which he still uses periodically. Guitarist Jim Suhler usually plays a 1957 Gibson Les Paul custom Goldtop, as well as various Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters. He is also known for playing his vintage 1931 steel resonator guitar. Bassist Billy Blough usually favors Music Man StingRay basses. Saxophonist Buddy Leach uses saxophones manufactured by Selmer, usually using their 80 alto and tenor models. He also uses a Buescher 400 Bari. saxophone, Yamaha Soprano saxophones, and a Geimenhardt flute. Drummer Jeff Simon endorses Brady drums, Remo drumheads, and Zildjian cymbals:
- 20" fx oriental china "trash"
- 15" A quick beat hi-hat top/15" A new beat hi-hat bottom as hi-hats
- 9.5" Zil-bell large
- 10" A custom splash
- 12" Z3 splash
- 14" A custom crash
- 18" A custom crash
- 18" A custom projection crash
- 22" A custom ping ride
- 22" fx oriental china "trash"
Studio albums with the Destroyers
- 1977: George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Gold)
- 1978: Move It on Over (Gold)
- 1979: Better Than the Rest (Recorded in 1974)
- 1980: More George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- 1982: Bad to the Bone (Gold)
- 1985: Maverick (Gold)
- 1986: Nadine (CD Rerelease of Better Than the Rest)
- 1988: Born to Be Bad (Gold)
- 1991: Boogie People
- 1993: Haircut
- 1997: Rockin' My Life Away
- 1999: Half a Boy/Half a Man
- 2003: Ride 'Til I Die
- 2006: The Hard Stuff
- 2009: The Dirty Dozen
- 2011: 2120 South Michigan Ave.
- 1986: Live (Platinum)
- 1995: Live: Let's Work Together
- 1999: Live in '99
- 2004: 30th Anniversary Tour: Live
- 2010: Live in Boston 1982
- 2014: Live At Montreux 2013
- 1992: The Baddest of George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Platinum)
- 2000: Anthology
- 2003: Who Do You Love?
- 2004: Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock (Gold)
- 2005: The Best of George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- 2007: Taking Care of Business (double disc of Ride 'Til I Die (w/ 2 bonus tracks) and 30th Anniversary Tour)
- 2013: Icon
Thorogood has been a baseball fan for most of his life, as well as playing semi-pro baseball as a second baseman during the 1970s (drummer Jeff Simon played centre field on the same team). He took his daughter to Chicago for her first major league game (Cubs vs. Rockies), during which he sang "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". In a 2011 Guitar World interview, he stated "I'm a Mets fan. There aren't many of us, but you know, that's me."
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- "George Thorogood & the Destroyers Biography". GeogreThorgood.Com. Fan Clubhouse, LLC. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
- Poling, Dean (March 19, 2010). "Bad to the funny bone". The Valdosta Daily Times. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
- Erlewine, Michael, ed. (1996). George Thorogood & the Destroyers. All Music Guide to the Blues. Miller Freeman Books. pp. 251–252. ISBN 0-87930-424-3.
- Rasmussen, Tracy. "In his inimitable way, Thorogood remains thoroughly good". Reading Eagle. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- Scully, Michael F. (2008). The Never-Ending Revival. University of Illinois Press. p. 107.
- About Blues
- Washington Post Op Ed May 15, 1993 – "M Street Shuffle" – fact-checked correction to Weekend section feature "Tune Town"; May 7, 1993
- Arar, Yardena (October 20, 1981). "Thorogood will play 50 states in 50 days". The Spokesman Review. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- 7th Inning interview on WGN Radio, June 27, 2007.
- "The 50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years". Delaware Today. March 14, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2013.
- "Interview: George Thorogood Discusses His New Album, '2120 South Michigan Ave.'". Guitar World. June 20, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011.