George Thorogood (born February 24, 1950) is an American blues rock vocalist/guitarist from Wilmington, Delaware, United States, known for his hit song "Bad to the Bone" as well as for covers of blues standards such as Hank Williams' "Move It On Over," Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?" and "House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by John Lee Hooker and Amos Milburn respectively.
George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers have released sixteen studio albums, including two that were certified Platinum, six that have been certified Gold, and have sold 15 million albums worldwide. The band's early success contributed to the rise of folk label Rounder Records.
Early life and family
Thorogood was born on February 24, 1950 and was raised in Naamans Manor, a neighborhood in suburban Wilmington, Delaware, where his father worked for DuPont. He graduated from Brandywine High School in 1968. The singer was the middle of five children, including two older brothers, John and Pete, and two younger identical twin sisters, Liza and Anne. In the late 1970s, Thorogood played on a baseball team in Delaware in the semi-professional Roberto Clemente League, which was created in 1976. He was the second baseman and was chosen rookie of the year in the league. However, he turned toward music after seeing John P. Hammond perform in 1970. His first shows were in Lane Hall at the University of Delaware. By the late 1970s, success in the music industry led him to quit playing the sport and focus on music.
Thorogood's demo, Better Than the Rest, was recorded in 1974, but would not be released until 1979. His major recording debut came in 1976 with the album: George Thorogood & The Destroyers, which was released in 1977. His band, The Destroyers was sometimes known as The Delaware Destroyers (or simply GT and D). In 1978, Thorogood released his next album with the Destroyers titled Move It On Over, which included the Hank Williams remake "Move It On Over". "Please Set a Date" and their remake of the Bo Diddley song "Who Do You Love?" both followed in 1979.
During the late 1970s, Thorogood and his band were based in Boston (see also Hound Dog Taylor). 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 (DC) 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 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.
This increased visibility occurred as Thorogood's contract with Rounder Records expired. He signed with EMI America Records and in 1982 released his best-known song, "Bad to the Bone", and an album of the same name. The song has been used frequently in television and film, including the television drama Miami Vice, the sci-fi thriller Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the animated cartoon Alvin and the Chipmunks, the comedies Problem Child, and Problem Child 2, Stephen King's Christine, and many episodes of the television sitcom Married... with Children. This track also was used during the intro to the movie Major Payne also used in the 1988 drama film Talk Radio. The same song is also featured in the game Rock 'n Roll Racing. It is also played during football pregame festivities at Mississippi State University and at USHRA Monster Jam events to introduce Grave Digger (regardless of driver). "Bad to the Bone" was used for the 1984 Buick Grand National advertisements. Thorogood's version of "Who Do You Love?" is played in all Samuel Adams beer commercials.
In 2012, Thorogood was named one of The 50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years.
- George Thorogood – lead vocals and lead guitar
- Jeff Simon – drums, percussion (1973–present)
- Billy Blough – bass guitar (1977–present)
- Jim Suhler – rhythm guitar (1999–present)
- Buddy Leach – saxophone, piano (2003–present)
- Ron "Roadblock" Smith – rhythm guitar (1973–1980)
- Hank "Hurricane" Carter – saxophone (1980–2003)
- Steve Chrismar – rhythm guitar (1985–1993)
Studio albums with the Destroyers
- 1977: George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Gold)
- 1978: Move It on Over (Gold)
- 1979: Better Than the Rest (Recorded in 1974)
- 1980: More George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- 1982: Bad to the Bone (Gold)
- 1985: Maverick (Gold)
- 1986: Nadine (CD Rerelease of Better Than the Rest)
- 1988: Born to Be Bad (Gold)
- 1991: Boogie People
- 1993: Haircut
- 1997: Rockin' My Life Away
- 1999: Half a Boy/Half a Man
- 2003: Ride 'Til I Die
- 2006: The Hard Stuff
- 2009: The Dirty Dozen
- 2011: 2120 South Michigan Ave.
- 1986: Live (Platinum)
- 1995: Live: Let's Work Together
- 1999: Live in '99
- 2004: 30th Anniversary Tour: Live
- 2010: Live in Boston 1982
- 1992: The Baddest of George Thorogood and the Destroyers (Platinum)
- 2000: Anthology
- 2003: Who Do You Love?
- 2004: Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock (Gold)
- 2005: The Best Of George Thorogood and the Destroyers
- 2007: Taking Care of Business (double disc of Ride 'Til I Die (w/ 2 bonus tracks) and 30th Anniversary Tour)
Thorogood has been a baseball fan for most (if not all) of his life, as well as playing semi-pro baseball 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."
- George and the Destroyers official website
- Review: The Hard Stuff
- George Thorogood at the Internet Movie Database
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Image from Discogs