George Thorogood and the Destroyers Bad to the Bone at Waterfest!

GT2BY Jane Spietz

WHAT: George Thorogood and the Destroyers
WHERE: Waterfest, Oshkosh WI
WHEN: Thursday, July 21, 2016 Gates open at 5:45 PM
COST: Reserved VIP $30, General Admission $20,
Admission before 7PM $15, Admission before 6PM $10

The minute that veteran rocker George Thorogood hits the first chord on his guitar, the crowd goes crazy and the party begins. Thorogood’s signature high energy, foot stompin’ rock ‘n’ roll is the reason. Getting up on stage to entertain his fans remains his biggest thrill after over 40 years of making music.
Thorogood’s original compositions, “Bad to the Bone,” and “I Drink Alone,” are classics, as are his interpretations of timeless songs by earlier iconic artists such as “Move It on Over,” “Who Do You Love?” and “House Rent Boogie/One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer.” Two of his albums reached Platinum status and six were certified as Gold. 

In 1981 Thorogood and the Destroyers opened for the Rolling Stones, and George acknowledges the Stones as important musical influences early on and today. In 1981, the band also completed a highly publicized marathon “50/50” tour of 50 states in 50 days. They began the tour after flying to Hawaii, Alaska, on to the Pacific Northwest, and then drove to gigs throughout the remainder of the Lower 48 in a Checker Cab.

Interestingly, Thorogood played semiprofessional baseball in his home state of Delaware for a time.

George Thorogood and the Destroyers consist of George Thorogood (lead vocals/lead guitar), Jeff Simon (drums/percussion), Billy Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar), and Buddy Leach (saxophone/piano).

Thorogood brings his “Badder Than Ever” tour to Waterfest in Oshkosh WI on Thursday, July 21. He called me from parts undisclosed.

Jane Spietz: Hi George. How are you?

George Thorogood: Bad to the bone!

JS: Where are you today?

GT: We swore under oath to the government not to give the whereabouts of our location. You know how it is when you’re a fugitive from injustice.

JS: You have said that you could be Wisconsin’s house band because you’ve played here so many times.

GT: We’ve done the Churchkey in Madison, Rock Fest, Oktoberfest, Summerfest, Waterfest, the Mad City Halloween event. Do you know that, after we did those two Halloween shows in Madison, the City Council outlawed us ever playing there again on Halloween? They said it was just too much. Did you know that Mad City in Madison was actually on 60 Minutes one year? It was a bigger event than Halloween in New York City or New Orleans or San Francisco. It was the place to go, but it was just getting to be too much. They said, first of all, we don’t need a band, and we certainly don’t need George Thorogood coming here playing “Madison Blues” in Madison, Wisconsin! (Laughs) It was wild. Holy smokes!

JS: What was it like growing up in Delaware?

GT: Very conservative, very dull. It’s not like growing up in Greenwich Village or New Orleans or Chicago, San Francisco or Paris or Montréal. It’s Delaware. Who goes to Delaware? (Laughs)

JS: Who were the influences that helped to shape your special brand of music?

GT: I was a big admirer of the Rolling Stones. I looked at what their influences were, checked out their people, so I could learn to play properly. Like Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Jimmy Reed, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker. I checked out all those cats so I could get a grip on how to play rock guitar properly.

JS: Talk about your years of playing semiprofessional baseball earlier on.

GT: It was just a recreational thing to do on the weekend like some people play softball, we played semi pro baseball. We just did it in the summertime. We decided to take a little time off. And I played softball, too, later. I was in a softball league for a while, with a lot of other people. I was on a softball team with Alice Cooper called the Vampires.

JS: Who’s your favorite team these days?

GT: I’ve always been a New York Mets fan.

JS: I enjoy rooting for the Brewers here, when they’re winning! I actually follow football more closely, being just an hour away from the Packers.
GT: You have a very good situation up there, the Packers. You have the only sports team whose fans are a part of the team, a fan-owned team. Of course, I admire people that can stand out there when it’s 10 below zero with no shirt on and a piece of cheese on their head.

JS: Tell us the story about your amazing “50/50” of 1981. The band toured 50 states in 50 days! That must have taken a great deal of planning.

GT: It was suggested that on our next tour that we play all 50 states. I thought that sounded like a good idea, but I didn’t realize that meant all 50 in a row, which was not a very good idea. (Laughs) By the time we did it, it was too late to back out. We went ahead and did it.

JS: How do you keep from getting rusty between tours?

GT: I do get rusty. I just try to make sure that we don’t take too much time off. Usually it takes a couple of days, but there’s no getting around that. You can’t sit home and practice your guitar when you’re a performer. You’re going to be rusty the first couple of days, especially if it’s a long layoff. If it’s only a month or three weeks, you’re okay. But when it’s been three or four months, then it’s a little hard to get the engine going.

JS: We are so looking forward to having you and the Destroyers perform here at Waterfest in Oshkosh on July 21st. What can your fans expect that night?

GT: They can expect to see the greatest rock show they ever saw in their life on earth. What, are you kidding me? When people go to the show, they need to make sure they’re wearing their safety belt, and especially afterwards when they go home!

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