Just because they are now entering their fourth decade as a band, don’t expect George Thorogood & The Destroyers to be slowing down anytime soon.
The acclaimed, crowd-pleasing blues-rock band has been responsible for many classic rock radio hits including “Bad To The Bone,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “Move It On Over.”
From the first time they took the stage on December 1, 1973, Thorogood and his longtime band The Destroyers – comprised of Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar) and Buddy Leach (saxophone) – have released 16 studio albums, with two platinum albums and six gold albums, including more than 650,000 records sold in Canada.
Thorogood’s stop at Casino New Brunswick on Friday night comes at the tail end of an extensive 20-date Canadian tour that kicked off on April 30 in Prince George, B.C.
Being back on the road means the opportunity to get up onstage on an almost nightly basis and do what he loves doing the most. As far as George is concerned, life couldn’t be better these days.
“Every day I get up and am still in a vertical position is good. Anything on top of that is just a bonus,” he laughs. “My wife is happy, my daughter is healthy and I got a gig. I have never been booed off a stage yet, I’ve never been in divorce court and my daughter tells me she loves me every day. I don’t need to listen to anything else otherwise.”
It is this realistic, grounded attitude that has no doubt helped George and the Destroyers last an astonishing 40 years in the music business. His approach to making music has always been a no-nonsense one, but it is his humility that is perhaps his most endearing quality. Even in light of being put on a pedestal by the likes of former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash or his old pal Steve Miller, George admits that his attitude has always been this way:
“Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck were the guys I looked up to, but I needed to pursue something more realistic. It’s like me realizing that I can’t be Marlon Brando but seeing that Peter Falk makes a pretty good living doing what he does. That is where my head has always been and where it still is.
“I make no bones about it – my voice and my songs aren’t going to blow people away like what Joni Mitchell has done with her career. But I always knew that if I looked at music realistically and put together as many elements as I could to potentially be successful, I could do it. I didn’t know what level it would be but figured that if I had a job I was happy with, money almost becomes a secondary thing. I would rather bat ninth with the Houston Astros then be the president of five different banks.”
Perhaps ironically, the guitar was a last resort kind of instrument for George. While his siblings learned how to play instruments including the clarinet, piano and the trumpet, George jokes that he tried virtually every instrument under the sun and only settled on the guitar after family and friends told him of his natural talent for the instrument.
“People close to me pushed me toward the guitar. Jimi Hendrix played guitar but he took that instrument as far as anybody will ever take the electric guitar. I knew I couldn’t better Hendrix. I just wanted to be good enough to make a living if I could.”
It is safe to say that George Thorogood has made a rather fine living for himself. With the Destroyers, George averages between 70 and 80 live dates a year. He treats each and every show as if it were his first, bringing a relentless enthusiasm to the stage for those folks who have paid their hard-earned money to see him play.
He believes he has the best job in the world and is not shy about being afforded the opportunity to do what he loves.
“If you’re playing in the big leagues and can’t get excited about what you do for a living, you’ve got problems,” George laughs. “If you go up to anybody between the ages of 25 and 65 and ask them what they wish they could be, everyone is going to tell you that they want to be a rock star. When you’ve got guys like President Obama and author Stephen King saying that they wish they were rock stars, you know you’ve tapped into something truly remarkable with your life.”
What: George Thorogood
& The Destroyers
When: Friday, May 23, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino New Brunswick, 21 Casino Dr., Moncton
Advance tickets are $44.50 (plus service fees). On day of show, tickets are $49.50 (plus service fees)