Bad to the bone: While you've known people like that, only George Thorogood takes the term as enough of a compliment to use it in a song about himself. One of the rawest, most energetic musicians ever set loose on the American public, Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers leave their fans' ears bleeding, and they love them for it as they head out to buy more tickets.
Thirty years into this energetic career, George Thorogood is still working with his longtime rhythm section, comprised of bassist Bill Blough and drummer Jeff Simon. Thorogood's screaming slide guitar and howling, gravelly vocals round out the trio, which sounds like a much bigger band simply because of the energy they produce on stage.
What sets the Destroyers apart from other excellent live bands is their ability to capture their brutal energy in their recordings. Though Thorogood claims to know just three guitar licks, he roams the fretboard as smoothly as any two guitarists. Thorogood, Simon and Blough feed off each other as few long-term acts do, creating a version of electric blues that remains faithful to the masters of the craft while taking the music into rock territory.
From their first show at the University of Delaware to their gigs opening for such blues legends as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, the Destroyers gathered respect and a growing number of fans. Finally, in 1981 they learned that the Rolling Stones wanted them as openers. That 11-date association cemented the legitimacy of the Destroyers, but they cut it short to do a planned tour called the 50-50 Tour.
In this unprecedented scheduling feat, the Destroyers appeared in all 50 states in 50 days (and did Washington, DC the same day as Maryland) from October 23 to December 11, 1981. Apart from the flights from Hawaii to Alaska and then to Oregon, Thorogood did all of his traveling for the tour in his vehicle of choice, a Checker Cab. If anyone wondered how serious this band was, the questions were answered once the band survived this feat.
Jeff Simon learned his drumming from Rolling Stones records, and since he was playing the blues filtered through Charlie Watts, it was not surprising that George Thorogood and the Destroyers would sound so authentic in their blues covers. From the rowdy John Lee Hooker tune 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer' to the Hank Williams song 'Move It On Over,' the recognizable sound of the Destroyers was filling the airwaves and selling tickets all over the world.
Then, in 1982, Thorogood wrote his signature song, 'Bad to the Bone.' His blues covers and his subsequent original material all pale by comparison, despite their continuing high quality. With the raw blues-bar lyrics and the chainsaw-like guitar, this recording is the artistic high point of Thorogood's output.
The Destroyers have a number of excellent albums under their belt, including Move It On Over and Bad to the Bone, but it was not until June of 2004 that they had a Number One album. 30 Years of Rock, a compilation of 16 of their best tracks, showed their staying power and the level of appreciation for their work when the CD topped the charts.
Over the years, George Thorogood and the Destroyers have sold enough tickets to fill arenas all over the country several times over, and they show no signs of stopping. From their early days as admirers of the Rolling Stones to their current status as the kings of blues rock, this trio, along with special guests including the likes of bluesman Elvin Bishop, continue to rock the stage for their loyal fans.
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