Even through funny quips and light teasing, one can tell legendary blues rocker George Thorogood isn’t bad to the bone, but rather a guy who works hard to continue living his rock and roll dream.
It’s been more than 40 years since the release of George Thorogood and the Destroyers self-titled album in 1977, which brought Thorogood’s versions of songs like One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer and Madison Blues to life.
Since then he’s filed more than 20 albums under his guitar strap (two certified platinum and six gold) and sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and even after those amazing accomplishments, his goal remains the same, to keep working.
“From day one … I was concerned about making a living. Doing this (creating albums) is a way to be established as an artist and get bookings. That was pretty much what I was after. People always go see people play like B.B. King, John Hammond. They go whether they have a new record or not. They get booked because they’re an artist,” he said. “I always had a more realistic shot at this thing. I want to work steady, that was the goal.”
And steady is an understatement.
Thorogood said he and the band like to play at least 70 gigs a year.
“I think that’s pretty standard. Seventy gigs a year out of 352 days, I wouldn’t call it insane. It makes sense professionally.”
Currently, George Thorogood and the Destroyers are on the Rock Party Tour which makes a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre May 10.
Thorogood, who’s played Penticton several times, the last about five years ago, kidded about not remembering the area. When described as having two beautiful lakes, Thorogood said, “Every place in Canada is pretty. British Columbia is a big place.”
A question about how the band continues to thrive after four decades received an honest and comical response: “Do you want me to speak truthfully about how we make it great? We are great. Well, I mean they aren’t going to hire you if you’re mediocre right? I mean, I’m not going to fool myself, if I go out there and I’m lousy I’m going to quit.”
Thorogood was humble as he talked about the successes in his career and appreciative of all the influences he’s had. Many of the band’s hits have been covers including a cover of Hank Williams Move it on Over and a reworking of Bo Diddley’s Who Do You Love.
“By the time we got around to playing guitar music and recording music, the greatest of rock and roll was already played, 90 per cent of the best was already played,” he said. “All of our material is selected for the audience approval. There’s none of this, “I wrote that song when my father passed away, or I wrote this when my son was born.’ We’re not that kind of band.”
When asked to describe what his live concert experience is like he replied: “It’s dirty. (It’s) kind of like Dennis Leary with a guitar.”
During his last words in the interview Thorogood said, “Mostly, I want to say to people make sure you wear your seatbelt and get to the show safe.”
When told there had been several rockslides and freshet had started, he added with a laugh, “Well then, we better play good.”
George Thorogood and the Destroyers play at the SOEC May 10. Tickets at the Valley First box office or at www.valleyfirsttix.com.