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Thorogood performing at the Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ontario (2006)
February 24, 1950 |
|Genres||Blues rock,boogie rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica|
|Labels||EMI, Eagle, Rounder, MCA, CMC|
|The Delaware Destroyers|
George Lawrence 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 to 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".
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 of 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 became the band's first Top 40 single.
"Bad to the Bone" has been used frequently in television, film, and gaming including: the television drama Miami Vice, the sci-fi thriller Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the animated cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks, John Carpenter's Christine, the television sitcom Married... with Children, the video game Rock 'n Roll Racing. The song is also played during sporting events including football pregame festivities at Mississippi State University, USHRA Monster Jam events to introduce the truck Grave Digger, during Professional Bull Riders events to introduce two-time PBR champion J.B. Mauney. In 1984, the song was used for the Buick Grand National television advertising campaign.
In 2012, Thorogood was named one of the "50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years".
He released a solo acoustic album in 2017 called Party Of One. Canadian music critic Dan Savoie of YQG Rocks said "that's what I dig about this album - it's Thorogood and a guitar. It can't be any more honest than that and the more grounded the recording is, the better the overall vibe is."
Thorogood has been a baseball fan for most of his life, playing semi-pro ball as a second baseman during the 1970s (drummer Jeff Simon played center 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."