Sunday, August 19, 2012 • 7:00 PM
Mayo Park | | FREE
A blues-rock guitarist who draws his inspiration from Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, and Chuck Berry, George Thorogood never earned much respect from blues purists, but he became a popular favorite in the early '80s through repeated exposure on FM radio and the arena rock circuit. Thorogood's music was always loud, simple, and direct -- his riffs and licks were taken straight out of '50s Chicago blues and rock & roll -- but his formulaic approach helped him gain a rather large audience in the '80s, when his albums regularly went gold.
Originally, Thorogood was a minor-league baseball player but decided to become a musician in 1970 after seeing John Paul Hammond in concert. Three years later, he assembled the Destroyers in his home state of Delaware; in addition to Thorogood, the band featured bassist Michael Lenn, second guitarist Ron Smith, and drummer Jeff Simon. Shortly after the Destroyers were formed, he moved them to Boston, where they became regulars on the blues club circuit. In 1974, they cut a batch of demos that were later released in 1979 as the Better Than the Rest album.
Within a year of recording the demos, the Destroyers were discovered by John Forward, who helped them secure a contract with Rounder Records. Before they made their first album, Lenn was replaced by Billy Blough. Thorogood & the Destroyers' eponymous debut was released in early 1977. The group's second album, Move It on Over, was released in 1978. The title track, a cover of Hank Williams' classic, was pulled as a single and it received heavy FM airplay, helping the album enter the American Top 40 and go gold. Its success led to MCA's release of Better Than the Rest, which the band disdained. In 1980, Ron Smith left the band and the group added a saxophonist, Hank Carter, and released its third album, More George Thorogood and the Destroyers.
Following the release of More George Thorogood, the guitarist signed with EMI Records, releasing his major-label debut, Bad to the Bone, in 1982. The title track became their first major crossover hit, thanks to MTV's saturation airplay of the song's video, and perhaps to the song’s inclusion in the ‘80s cult classic horror movie Christine. The album went gold and spent nearly a full year on the charts. In 1985, The Destroyers released their best-selling album, Maverick. A song from that album, "I Drink Alone", was used for the Don't Drink and Drive-campaign. In the same year they appeared at Live Aid playing with blues legends Albert Collins and Bo Diddley.
1988’s Born to Be Bad, contained the swaggering hit, “You Talk Too Much.’’ The ‘90s saw more hit-making with 1993’s “Get a Haircut,’’ from the album Haircut. And albums followed into the new millennium with 2003’s Ride ‘Til I Die--and 2006’s Hard Stuff--on Eagle Records, and a 2004 Capitol compilation, Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock, which went gold and was #1 on Billboard’s blues chart for a noteworthy 60 weeks, while winning the magazine’s award for blues record of the year. George Thorogood and his band the Destroyers have been blowing audiences out of their seats for more than 30 years; and there’s no sign of slowing down anytime soon.