Legacy: George Thorogood

As someone who became a pro musician later in life than most – your debut was released when you were twenty-seven years old – you’ve proved to be a survivor.

Yeah. I was shocked to the bone when _One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer _[from his self-titled debut, 1977] got on the radio almost overnight. And then came MTV. So we were in the right place at the right time.

Did that make you appreciate it more?

No, I did not. Not at all. I was ready in 1974. We had our record in the can in 1974, all ready to go, but the labels weren’t interested. By the time we hit I was a pretty old rookie.

Blues and rock – you’re a little bit of both?

That’s correct. I’ve often tried to figure out: are we a heavy blues band, or a light rock band? We’re kind of an enigma. But we do rock, and to me anything that rocks is rock’n’roll.

Who have you met that turned out to be an unexpected fan of what you do?

Oh God, great question. Bob Dylan said how much he liked One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer and appreciated what I do on stage. A couple of people said they are actually fans of the Destroyers – one is Johnny Rivers [UK rock’n’roller] and the other is Steve Miller. That meant a lot. Those guys are my peers. Every time I see Peter Wolf [J Geils Band frontman] he’s all over me, it’s like we’re blood brothers. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is another guy who loves what I do. I’m surprised he’s even heard of me.

Would you describe Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was in Terminator 2, which used Bad To The Bone, as a real fan?

Naaah. He didn’t know who we were. He just put the music in his movie.

Have you helped to keep the blues alive?

That’s another great question. How about that? I’m not sure whether that statement’s true, but if so, of course I’m proud.

This is your fortieth anniversary in the business. What’s next?

Year forty-one! We’re probably through with making records. People just want to hear the hits, so we’re going to play live. That’s good enough for me.

What can George Thorogood do at sixty-four that he couldn’t do at thirty?

I’m a lot more focused and organised. I’m at the top of my game.

How would you like to be remembered when you’re gone?

I’d just like to be remembered, period. I don’t care how people talk about me, just leave me in the conversation. Just being recognised within the field I’ve chosen is enough for me.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.