top of page

George Thorogood - Interviewed

By Mitchell West

George Thorogood Photo Credit: David Dobson

“Surreal” doesn’t quite describe how it felt talking with George Thorogood over the phone. I was a nervous wreck during the interview but he handled it well, and quite frankly just as legendarily as I’d hoped. After all, it's George motherfuckin Thorogood! He’s a legend for a reason! George Thorogood and the Destroyers are an American blues rock band formed in Wilmington, Delaware in 1974. The band consists of George Thorogood (vocals, guitar), Jeff Simon (drums), Bill Stuverud (bass), Jim Suhler (guitar), and Buddy Cianciulli (harmonica). Thorogood and the Destroyers have released 20 studio albums, 12 live albums, and 13 compilation albums. The band has sold over 15 million records worldwide. The guitar lick from 'Bad to the Bone' is probably one of the most recognizable riffs in music. Their legendary is a mix of blues, rock, and boogie-woogie. Some of their most well-known tracks include "Bad to the Bone", "I Drink Alone", and "Move It On Over". George Thorogood and The Destroyers have rocking for 45 years and counting. Their music has transcended time, inspired millions, and serves, to this day, as anthem music for rockers all over the world. We had an opportunity to do a little Q&A with George over the phone leading up to his show on May 10th at Pinnacle Bank Arena when The Live & Unzoomed 2022 tour featuring George Thorogood and The Destroyers, REO Speedwagon, and Styx rolls to town.

Photo Credit: Pinnacle Bank Arena

We’ve definitely got a few exciting things to push and talk about. Firstly, this past April, “The Original George Thorogood” album was released on CD, digitally, and on two vinyl LP configurations. Talk to us about that!

"Throughout the years as you may or may have not known, it doesn’t matter, I got a little tired or a little miffed when people come up to me in or not in the music business and say “How come you never do any originals, you just do covers?”. They always used the word “never” and I was like “wait a minute, that just isn’t true”. Just because you hear “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer” moving on the radio, there are originals in our catalog. So Matt from Capital and our manager Adam got together, and I think Adam just was tired of me whining to him about it all of the time and decided to put out a collection of some of our originals. A whole cd of them. Now wait a minute, I’m not claiming I’ve written good songs or even great songs but I have written some songs to get the record straight and put that myth to rest. The timing couldn’t be better and now that the outlet for music entertainment is all over the world in so many ways. That’s a break for us."

The “Live and Unzoomed” tour comes through Lincoln, NE Tuesday, May, 10th featuring yourself along with The Destroyers, Styx, and REO Speedwagon comes to town. It was moved from Pinewood Bowl Amphitheater to Pinnacle Bank Arena due to weather. What style of venue is your absolute favorite to rock (Clubs, Theatres, Arenas, Festivals, Amphitheaters? Etc.)?

"Yes, good venues."

Define a good venue:

"What do you prefer? People who are tall people? Or people who are short people? You don’t care as long as they’re good people."

Favorite region to play in?

"All of them. To me, every night is Carnegie Hall."

George Thorogood at Pinnacle Bank Arena Photo Credit: @thatonemitchkid

“It’s easy to write a song, difficult to write a good song, and even harder to write a great song.” What are some of the crucial ingredients a great song needs to have, especially when it comes to George Thorogood and The Destroyers?

"I don’t know about me, but I think the key to writing a great song is having someone who’s a great songwriter. Everybody still digs “Jumpin' Jack Flash” and “Like A Rolling Stone”.

You have so many amazing stories. Ones that you’ve shared and I’m sure others you may never share. Are there any notable stories from playing the Midwest through the years?

"There are so many. I had the experience of playing in Nebraska at a small club in Omaha visiting some relatives. I got my confidence up when I was visiting there and playing. They pretty much hired me on the spot. I was fortunate in your home state to get a break.

With a career that spans decades and has shared the stage with absolute icons, If it’s even possible, what was the greatest performance moment in your career and why? (submitted by Bill Stephan)

"Every night."

The music industry has substantially changed nearly every decade since you started and in ways, nobody could ever predict, especially with the tools to create and platforms to showcase and sell your music. For someone picking up the guitar for the first time, what would you tell them?

"Rest in peace to the great Johnny Winter. He had a statement I thought was great and I can elaborately speak on it. John was a man of few words and said something that stuck in my head: “Always play for fun”. I took it to this level “Always play for fun because if it's fun you’re gonna do it more and then the more you do it the better you get and the better you get the more fun you have. I think that's the groundwork for the thing. You pick it up and you cannot put it down.

What will always remain true about Rock N Roll regardless of how things change?

"I started thinking Rock N Roll will never die because there's too much money in it for it to die. People won’t let it die. I say Rock N Roll is a natural physical phenomenon. It’s in your soul. When you're born, what does your momma do to get you to sleep? She rocks you to sleep. How did your mother and father create you? They rocked with each other if you know what I mean? Eventually when you get older, what kind of chair do they put you in? A rocking chair. It's a natural thing for a human being to do that, which is why the squares in the 50s and early 60s just couldn’t dig that. They said, “why are these kids wild over this rock n roll thing?” I said “Because it’s a natural thing! It’s a natural thing for their body. Roll over Beethoven and tell Chercaughsky the news!

Photo Credit: @thatonemitchkid

Tell us more about the power of a guitar lick.

"Can you imagine a time and a life where the kick-off lick to “Johnny Be Good” did not exist? Can you think of a time when the opening lick to “Satisfaction” did not exist? Chuck Berry knew what he was doing as always and The Rolling Stones knew what they were doing. Get the lick first and then work the song around."

An interview you did about a year ago with Katy Daryl of AXS TV hit me hard. You told the story about Charley Watts from The Rolling Stones asking you for your autograph and how impacted you were by that. What does that moment mean for you now, especially since his passing?

Well, it was huge at that point and it’s even bigger now. He had a good life, he was the most influential drummer, especially in rock drumming of anybody. That's how the Rolling Stones got it kicking. Like any band, Ian Stewart said “It’s the drummer that makes the band anyway” and the Stone's final thing was getting the right drummer. Charley was a jazz drummer, to begin with, and the Stones were very heavy into blues and in rhythm and blues and the combination of that was a unique combination that Charley added to The Rolling Stones sound. With his passing his legacy is even bigger now than ever. We talk about him every day. I bug the heck out of our drummer Jeff Simon “Somewhere in your set you’ve got to put that lick in that Charley does in “When The Whip Comes Down”. The title of the song is already something but when Charley does that lick at the end of the song, that's the whip coming down baby. It’s just too heavy to ignore. One guy in the Rolling Stones you don't mess with was Charley Watts

One of the best quotes from that interview “I was a fan at 15, and I’m still a fan now. That’s never gonna leave me…ever. As time goes on that expands” when talking about still asking those you admire for their autograph, so George, I’ll be shooting photos during your set….can I get YOUR autograph?

Are you ready for this? Do you know what the first autograph I ever got was? Chuck Berry. I’ve got Chuck Berry and Tom Jones…who’s a confident heterosexual, Suzanne Pleshette, and you ready for this? Joe Dimaggio. You know it’s funny, I shoulda put this in, I have Vikki Lamotta's autograph and she wrote on there “George, can I have YOUR autograph?”. Yes, you may! You may have my autograph! What do you think I’ve been waiting for all of these 45 years? What do you think I practiced when I was in high school? In my free periods which I had a lot of? I didn’t practice my guitar, I practiced my autograph!”

The concert itself was badass. Each band had amazing sets and played to their audience. It was a true rock show. Each of these bands is a headliner and seeing them all on the same bill is as Rock 'N Roll as it gets!

*Updated 4/30/23*


bottom of page