George Thorogood Interview – Bad to the Bone with George Thorogood
Music Incider Magazine
MI: I love you!
George: That’s a good way to start a conversation.
MI: Oh my God, ain’t that the truth I love you. I’ve loved you since the first time I’ve heard ya.
George: Alright, let me just interject one thing.
George: Once you get over your initial shyness – you’ll be ok.
MI: Ok, I know my initial shyness – don’t worry about it. You ready?
George: Better to be sure than shy.
MI: Yes it is.
George: Speak your mind.
MI: Alright, tell me about why Ride ‘Til I Die and why nothing else has come out since that CD in ’03.
George: Alright, well something did come out.
MI: Yeah, the 25th anniv. Dvd – I got that, that’s fantastic.
George: Except it was for 30 years.
George: Why hasn’t anything else come out?
MI: Hmm? Are you planning something else to come out after … something new?
George: A Heartstop is coming out in May.
MI: It is?
MI: Ok, what is your favorite track off of Ride ‘Til I Die?
George: Oh God, that’s tough… That’s probably my favorite CD of all the ones we’ve ever made. That’s really tough. I’d be hard pressed – probably ‘American Made.’
MI: Do you plan to release any videos?
George: No, videos are kinda a thing of the past for us. They’re too expensive and the world of competition to get your video played is just way through the ceiling right now. It’s just almost not even worth it. They cost anywhere from a quarter million to half a million to make and we don’t have that kind of money…
MI: … Right…
George: … And our record company really doesn’t feel it’s important to invest that kind of money in something. I mean it’s pretty much an established act at this point for us. People know of us and you know the video thing would have to be something really special. We did make a video 30 Years of Rock which was released last year. Actually went gold in Canada. So we do have a current video out there right now from our live performance
MI: But you wanna hear somethin’ weird? I don’t see it here playin’ in the States.
George: Well, they never play it – they don’t like us in the States.
MI: That’s just, … Jesus, I don’t know.
George: I don’t know, maybe there is something that will go gold in the States. Maybe it’s just not played in Georgia.
MI: Well, that’s true.
George: But, somebody’s playin’ it somewhere.
MI: I am! Don’t worry, I’m playin’ one of your records all the time. I burnt out your last CD – believe it or not.
George: I thought that would be as far as we’d have to go after we did ‘Ride ‘Til I Die’ there was nothin’ left in me. It was almost impossible to squeeze one more CD out of us. We’re under contract with Eagle, so we had to do it. Had to put out ‘A Heartstop.’ So that’s comin’ out in May and you know, after that I’m gunna get my tubes tied.
MI: laughs How did you end up on Eagle Rock and Spitfire.
George: Eagle was interested in us for a long time and they kinda came after us for about a year. I was pretty much at the point where I was thinkin’ I don’t even know if I wanna record anymore – I just wanna play l ive. But, I had a couple of songs kickin’ around that I really would’ve wanted to record and you know, indoctrinate into our live show. So I needed to do atleast one more record. So Eagle was available and they were, you know, I don’t like to go begging anybody – they were very eager to work with us.
MI: Right, exactly. How do you think the Destroyers are different from when you guys first started and now.
George: Well, we sorta put on a little weight and we can’t grow our hair quite as long as we once did. Other than that, there’s not much difference.
MI: Who’s your favorite blue’s guitarist.
George: Oh God, that’s Robert Johnson, probably – he’s the best.
MI: Oh yeah, oh yeah.
George: Nobody’s better than him.
MI: Nobody’s better than him next to Stevie Ray and you.
George: Robert Johnson is the first and last word in blues. But, anybody will tell you the same. There’s only five acts, I’ll tell you who they are. Mention blues – Robert Johnson. Country music – Hank Williams. Rock bands – The Beetles. Rock and Roll – Chuck Berry, I mean Chuck Berry invented Rock and Roll. The only one left is Bob Dylan. That’s it.
MI: That’s it.
George: You know, the only two people that I think can even come close to that is probably John Fogerty and Bryan Willson.
MI: That’s, you know what – I’ve never thought of John Fogerty.
George: John Fogerty is a genius.
MI: He is a genius.
George: John Fogerty is the secret foster of our time.
MI: So, how does George Thorogood go from being in Minor League baseball…
George: Minor League, where the hell did you hear that?! Major Leagues! There ain’t no minor leagues. Who keeps talkin’ about this minor league shit? It’s major leagues!
MI: That came with your press packet…
George: Well, they don’t know what they’re talkin’ about. Do I give off the allure of a minor league player?
MI: No. What major league where you on my darling?
George: I tried to rip it around. Played with various clubs. I was on deck for three years with Nolan Ryan.
MI: The Pittsburg Pirates?
George: Yeah, I think I might have been with them once or twice.
MI: Oh, I would hope so. If you had a million dollars to donate to charity – what would it be?
George: A million dollars?
George: I’d probably donate it to the education for children or diseases that affect childen – bottom of my heart for kids. I mean, they are the future, right?
MI: They are the future, they are the future – they really, really are – especially what’s goin’ on in the world today. What do you think about what’s goin’ on with this war in Iraq.
George: That’s a pitty isn’t it? I really don’t think we’re getting’ anywhere there. I question whether we should have gone there to begin with. I really don’t uh, it’s a mystery to me. I mean, all that money goin’ to Iraq, they could have used that money to help us out in that New Orleans situation, couldn’t they?
MI: Yeah. That’s what I thought.
George: You know, when you got that much money in the bank you gotta…. You know, it’s between you and me, I think George Bush is a little bit of a ‘Glory Hound,’ a little bit of a flag-waving Glory Hound. I think he thinks he’s the Lone Ranger.
MI: I think he’s more like Adolf Hitler.
George: You’re not alone with those thoughts. He just wants to conquer the world, not just the United States.
MI: What got be funny was when Katrina happened – do we send the money to Iraq or do we send it to New Orleans?
George: Yeah, unlike other US Presidents or high powered leaders, they’re interested in world dominance, aren’t they?
MI: Yeah, they are, they really are.
George: What I’d like to do is give all our money to the kids and say “listen, we’re the older generation, we fucked it up, maybe you can do better.” laughs
MI: Exactly. Who would you consider your hero when you were growing up?
George: My hero is probably Mac.
George: Mac from Cannery Row.
MI: What was the worst job you ever had?
George: Where do we start? laughter They were all bad. It wasn’t that the job was so bad, I was just bad at doin’ it.
MI: How did the death of “Dimebag” Darrel Abbott.
George: I didn’t hear about that!
MI: You didn’t hear about that?
George: No, I didn’t hear that – I’m sorry.
MI: Nathan Gale, this guy, this ex-marine came up on stage. Vinny Abbott was up on stage playing drums, his brother Darrel was up on stage, they were at the Hour Rose in Columbus and he killed Dimebag and the Road Manager and he shot three other people.
George: That’s terrible. silence I’m sorry, I didn’t hear about that.
MI: What is you opinion on legalizing marijuana?
George: Absolutely! I mean, if you legalize the stuff and you say you got to be 18 to have it, if you get any more joints under a certain age you’re gunna be fined, if you do that then by the time they get to be 25 – 30 they’re not gunna be interested in cocaine or heroine or any of that stuff. ‘Cause that’s legal. It’s like makin’ beer legal. It’ll cause a lot less trouble, cops got better things to do than to bust people for marijuana – you know, there’s a lot heavier shit goin’ down. I don’t understand why it’s not legal at this point. It’s just rediculous. The reason they don’t make it legal is because you can’t tax it – the government can’t make money off of it. Just like prostitution – prostitution should be legal. I mean, it’s just insane.
MI: It’s legal in Vegas, why shouldn’t it be legal everywhere?
George: Exactly, tobacco and cigarettes are legal. Prescribe it for cancer patients. I mean coffee is deadlier to you than marijuana is, God all-mighty. If you take two tokes of good marijuana you’re so stoned all you do is just smile and fall asleep.
MI: That’s true.
George: You know, so what’s the big deal?
MI: What the hell’s the big deal – you’re not hurtin’ anybody as long as you do it in your own house and nobody’s seein’ you and you’re comfortable. That’s how I look at it.
George: Actually, stepping back I’d have to say that my hero was Jackie Gleason.
MI: Jackie Gleason?
George: Yeah, the great one. They had him on 60 Minutes one time and they said “Orsen Wells dubbed you the ‘Great One.'” I mean, Orsen Wells, Barbara – think of that. Orsen Wells dubbed Gleason the ‘Great One.’ They asked him, “How do you feel about that, Jack?” This was his answer, he said: “It’s a pint in my mouth that I’m comfortable with.” Now that’s a confident heterosexual for ya. That was my guy pretty much. It was either him or that other guy from England. I can’t get his name right, it was either Mick Richards or Kieth Jagger.
MI: laughter You’re bad! You are so… more laughter
George: Yeah, that was the guy. Whoever that guy is or was.
MI: Mic Jagger… continues laughing
George: Mic Richards or Kiether Jagger.
MI: So, do you believe in psychics my darling?
George: I believe in everything.
MI: You do? Ok.
George: I believe anything’s possible. If George Bush can be President of the United States of America and George Thorogood can become a rock star, then anything’s possible. Laughing
MI: Do you ever see yourself running for President, Mr. Thorogood?
George: laughingly Yeah – I’m already President. I’m President of The Destroyers Incorporated and that’s as far as I’m ever gunna take it.
MI: What is your favorite record of all time?
George: Ride ‘Til I Die.
MI: So, you’re a big Three Stooges fan – why?
George: Well, they’re funny and the Stooges are pretty much the victims – nobody gets hurt. So, you can’t really say they’re offensive to anybody. Because, they supply a superiority complex for everybody – when you’re watching them you think, “Well, I’m not as bad off as these guys.” So, they serve a purpose.
MI: If a movie was made of your life: who would you want to play you and what would the theme song be?
George: Sidney Portier! Go with the best, you know?
MI: laughing And the theme song?
George: The theme song, “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime” by Dean Martin.
MI: I love Dean Martin.
George: agrees Who doesn’t?
MI: I love Frank Sinatra, too.
If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could bring two people, two books, two cds: who would be those people and which books and cds?
George: The two people would be my daughter and my wife. Two books would be: carry rowe and probably anyone of Mad magazine. The best of Hank Williams and the best of Chuck Berry.
MI: You know they just released a double set on Hank Williams.
George: I’m gunna go pick it up right now.
MI: I’m dead serious, I picked it up over the summer with my mom – it’s fantastic, its got everything…
George: Hank Williams should be taught in public schools.
MI: Here’s my question, “Do you ever see taking out Hank Williams III out on the road with you?”
George: No, I know his father. But I haven’t met Hank Williams III.
MI: Oh, you’ve gotta hear his son – he sound just like his Grandfather.
George: I mean I’ve seen him on television and stuff like that, but I haven’t caught him live.
MI: You’ve gotta see him – he does an hour of his Grandfather, an hour of his Father, and then an hour of his own stuff.
George: excited I’ve gotta go then, I’ve gotta see that – I can’t miss that.
MI: Would you consider yourself a rock and roll man or a blues man?
George: I consider myself an entertainer, period.
MI: That’s a good one.
MI: Tell me a joke.
George: A joke? Alright, a 85 year old man goes to confession and he’s sitting in the confession and the priest goes, “Do you have something to say to me?” And he says, “Yes, yesterday was my 85th birthday and I made love to a 20 year old woman.” The priest says, “Have you ever been to confession before?” And he says, “No, I’ve never been to confession. Matter-of-fact, I’m not even Catholic.” The priest says, “Why are you telling me this.” The man says, “Man, I’m tellin’ everybody!”
MI: laughing Jesus Christ!
MI: What would you suggest to any young band? You’ve been in the business 30 years, George, what would you tell any young band that’s walking into a major label? What would you warn them about the business?
George: Get yourself a top-notch laywer, sit in a room, put on a pair of glasses, and don’t smile – every time you smile, it’s gunna cost you money.
George: Yes, sit there and look pissed off.
MI: Do you see yourself opening up your own label in the future?
George: No, no way.
MI: Why not?
George: I don’t want that headache. I don’t want that bother.
MI: How do you think the music industry has treated you over the years?
MI: You serious?
George: Yeah, absolutely – they’ve been very fair with me. I don’t think any record labels lost money on me and every label I’ve been with has pretty much let me do what I want to do. I have no complaints. Life is short – there’s no use in complaining over things you have no control over. So, I think I’ve been treated fairly. I was paid on time, I know that! That’s as fair as it can be.
MI: Do you ever see yourself putting out a box set?
George: Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah, I’ll definitely do that.
MI: When do you see that happening?
George: Hmm… maybe not for another … eight or ten years?
MI: Do you have a message for your fans, darling?
George: Yes, keep it down, keep it cool, wear your safety belts to the show.
MI: What is your favorite quote of all time?
George: My favorite quote of all time?
MI: It can be anything, darling.
George: Oh, God – my favorite quote. Eat a piece of fruit everyday and stay out of italian cars.
MI: Did you ever have a paranormal experience?
George: No, but I’m waitin’ for one!
MI: Are ya?
George: That’d be a good experience.
MI: Well, maybe if I get backstage with you I just might give you a reading – because I do do readings, my dear.
George: I’d like to meet the ghost of Babe Ruth.
MI: Really? ‘Cause that’s the next question I was gunna ask you: If you could have lunch with three people living or dead, who would it be?
George: Living or dead – alright, now here’s who I’d like to have lunch with: Jesus Christ, only because he’s arguably the most famous person in history. I’d also like to have lunch with Hilary Clinton, because I’d like to ask her, “How does it feel, that at one point in time, that you were the most powerful person on the planet?” Her husband was the most powerful man, but who’s the only one who has power over him? His wife. And the other person I’d like to have lunch with would be a person from another planet.
MI: What planet?
George: I don’t care, I think it’d be kinda interesting.
MI: It would be interesting. What’s your favorite movie of all time?
George: Oh, the greatest movie ever made…
MI: Which is…?
George: He was a King and a God, in the world he knew. But, now he comes to you ready to capture and satisfy your curiousity. Ladies and gentlemen gaze upon Kong! The eighth wonder of the world!
MI: laughing Oh, Jesus Christ!
George: Best movie ever made!
MI: What’s your website address, baby?
George: I don’t have one.
MI: Yes you do.
George: No, I don’t.
MI: Yes, you do.
George: I do?
MI: Yes, you do. Laughs
George: The band has one, but I don’t know what it is.
MI: It’s alright, I got that in the press packet that says you played in the minor leagues.
George: Throw that one out the window.
MI: I’m gunna throw that one out the window. I will see you when you get to Atlanta.
George: Keep it down, keep it cool, …
MI: And I will promise y ou something, if I get backstage I will bring my cards with me and I will give you a reading.
George: You got it!