George Thorogood still bad to the bone

By Quentin Young

The ’80s were a good time for mainstream blues guitar. For star power, you had Eric Clapton. For firepower, Stevie Ray Vaughan. For showmanship, you had ZZ Top. For style, Robert Cray.

But if straight-up, snarling blues rock was more your thing, you had George Thorogood.

His most famous song is about how bad to the bone he is, and his other greatest hits are drinking anthems. His voice sounds like someone revving a Harley, and his approach to slide guitar is akin to what a lumberjack does with a chainsaw.

George Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers, are celebrating 40 years of making music with a 2014 tour, including an Oct. 2 stop at the Boulder Theater. (Rogers & Cowan / Courtesy photo)

George Thorogood and his band, The Destroyers, are celebrating 40 years of making music with a 2014 tour, including an Oct. 2 stop at the Boulder Theater. (Rogers & Cowan / Courtesy photo)

This kind of cool doesn’t grow old, and you don’t grow out of it. Thorogood, a road warrior from his early days, is traveling with his band, The Destroyers, in their “40 Years Strong” tour, with a stop planned for Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Boulder Theater. The Destroyers played their first show on Dec. 1, 1973, and they’re celebrating 40 years of performing by performing at venues throughout the country.

The group, which has two platinum albums and six golds among 16 studio recordings, has taken a permanent place in rock history. But it’s the live show from night to night that remains this former bar band’s priority.

“Your only responsibility is to the people who bought the ticket that night,” Thorogood said during a phone interview last week.

Colorado fans were some of the first to notice the Delaware-bred Thorogood, who now lives in Los Angeles. A Denver-area AM radio station started spinning Thorogood in 1977, and he said he soon began appearing at local venues such as Tulagi’s in Boulder, the Little Bear in Evergreen and, eventually, Red Rocks. Thorogood marveled at how dedicated local fans are to Red Rocks as a venue, saying they seem to make a special effort to see their favorite artists there.

“That’s the people’s venue,” he said.

In 1982, the Jazzercise-ready “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John was the big hit, which might help explain why Thorogood was able to break through at the time with the swaggering roadhouse stomp “Bad to the Bone.” The first verse is about how Thorogood’s sexual gifts were clear even to the nurses at his birth. To quote another of his hits, it was as if Thorogood was saying to his MTV peers, “Move it on over, a hot dog’s moving in.”

Other Thorogood songs that endure from the time are “I Drink Alone” and his cover of Rudy Toombs’ “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” which made Thorogood seem like the coolest drinker in America. Asked if he’s a good drinking buddy in real life, Thorogood said, “I am, if it’s only one or two.”

Thorogood is still a badass (there’s no other word for it). During the phone chat for this story, he commented that the interviewer’s name was a good one for a gang leader. “The Dangerous Quentin Young Gang,” Thorogood suggested. He later concluded the interview by saying, “Rock ‘n’ roll never sleeps. It just passes out.”

Contact Quentin Young at 303-684-5319 or qyoung@times-call.

If you go

What: George Thorogood & The Destroyers

When: 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 2

Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder

Tickets: $39.50-$45



Your host

Your host Quentin Young, reporter at the Times-Call (Longmont), and Daily Camera (Boulder) respectively.

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