Still bad to the bone

George Thorogood and Brian Setzer co-headline Rose

By Rusty Pate

Photo: George Thorogood and the Destroyers will co-headline with Brian Setzer on June 2 at the Rose Music Center

George Thorogood and the Destroyers have spent the better part of four decades recording and crisscrossing the country. Their raucous and hard-edged take on bar-band blues have yielded the group six gold and two platinum records, becoming a mainstay of classic rock radio along the way.

Hits like “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “Bad to the Bone” made Thorogood a household name in the 1980s. Rounder Records recently rereleased his debut album on limited edition blue vinyl.

Dayton City Paper recently caught up with Thorogood to talk about the reissue, his upcoming show at the Rose Music Center and his surprising knowledge of all things Ohio.

George Thorogood: So you are calling from the Buckeye State? Ohio? That’s the state that gave us Paul Newman?

I believe so.

GT: Mike Schmidt.

Absolutely.

GT: Pete Rose.

Peter Edward Rose, yes sir.

GT: Dave Parker.

You know your baseball.

GT: OK, let’s switch off—General Custer and James Butler Hickock.

Wow, you are a well-rounded individual. I thought you were just a bad-ass guitar player, and you know all this history and baseball stuff.

GT: Well, I don’t know all of it. Clint Eastwood said, “Sometimes a mere strap of information can save a man’s life.”

That’s an excellent point.

GT: If someone pulled you over with a .44 automatic and said “name the seven dwarves,” could you do it?

I think the pressure might put a bullet in my head, actually.

GT: I don’t think so. If there’s a gun to your head, you think of it quick. What’s on your mind today, Rusty?

Not much. What’s going on in Mr. Thorogood’s world?

GT: Not much? I envy you, a guy that doesn’t have much on his mind. I envy you, Rusty.

Do you have a lot on your mind?

GT: Always. Did Halle Berry come from Ohio?

I’m sorry?

GT: That’s two Academy Award winners that came from your state.

It’s a pretty good little state. We get mislabeled as a fly-over, but I think we got some things going for us here.

GT: Well, you’re too close to the East to be the Midwest and too close to the Midwest to be the East. You’re kind of wedged in there. In the—check this out Rusty—in the 1980s, in the summer, we were practically the house band of Ohio. Every summer, we would go from Ohio to Upstate New York back to Ohio. There’s a road and we wore that road out. We played Ohio, the Rust Belt they call it, we played that sucker—if we didn’t have a record out, if we did have a record out, it didn’t make any difference.

All over Ohio—from the borderline of Kentucky, to the borderline of Pennsylvania, to the borderline of Indiana and right into Pennsylvania and Upstate New York. But Ohio was the summer thing we did every year. It was incredible.

Did any specific cities stand out or do they all start blending together?

GT: We did Toledo, Akron, Cincinnati. We did Nautica Stage, and we did Nautica Stage, then we did Nautica Stage. We did Blossom and Taste of Cleveland. Yeah, I’ve been to your state. You say underrated, but your state is one of the most important in the country. The three important states: New Hampshire, Ohio and California. Ohio’s always the swing state for voting.

Exactly. Every four years everyone cares about us.

GT: It’s a big platform for the country. But anyway. We’re talking rock and roll now. Let’s move on.

Let’s talk about the reissue of the debut album. Why do it now? Is there a reason behind it? What was your thinking on doing it now?

GT: It wasn’t my idea, Rusty. It was Rounder’s idea. According to them, it was a good idea. I can’t stop them. They have the right to it. They have the master and everything. I might as well go along with the project.

So, you’re cool with it?

GT: I might as well be. I got no choice. I just like the picture on the front.

Yeah, it is a pretty sweet cover.

GT: The picture that was on the first [issue] was terrible and the ones on the back were even worse. This is the picture that should have been on in the beginning. It’s funny because that’s the picture I chose in the original album, and they rejected it.

So, over time, it proves that you’re right.

GT: That was the picture that will make it. You see the half shadow, like the first album The Beatles put out, Meet the Beatles, and that’s the most famous album cover in rock history. It grabs people’s eye when they see it. They said, “What do you know? We put out records and you never put out any.” I said, “Well, what’s that got to do with anything?”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers will co-headline with Brian Setzer Tuesday June 2 at the Rose Music Center, 6800 Executive Blvd. in Huber Heights. Show starts at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are between $41 and $58.50. For more information, please visit georgethorogood.com or rosemusiccenter.com or call 937.610.0288.

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@daytoncitypaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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