For 40 years, George Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers have been upholding everything that is good about rock 'n' roll. There will be detractors who'll relegate the man to bar-band status, an old jukebox staple, or some such shit — the bottom line is that he's been belting out some of the most memorable and honest blues-influenced rock licks of the past four decades, with no sign of slowing down.
If you've ever felt a minute tingling of badassedness, there's a chance that his "Bad to the Bone" has cued up in the back of your mind. From an anthemic repertoire like that to misery soundtracks like his raucous cover of John Lee Hooker's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" to astute renderings of works by masters like Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, and Elmore James, Thorogood understands rock 'n' roll. A Thorogood album, pun intended, is a thoroughly good primer on American blues and a solid starting point for anyone interested in roots music and how it has influenced each succeeding generation of rockers. Thorogood is not only the teacher in his work; he is also a firm believer in the power of rock.
A key to his success has been his long-term association with drummer and longest-running Destroyer Jeff Simon, who has been providing a steady backbeat for Thorogood's guitar work since 1973. Add the fact that the rhythm section as it stands today gelled in '76 with the addition of bassist Billy Blough — well, that's some cohesion that's never derailing. Rounding out the band are rhythm guitarist Jim Suhler and saxophonist Buddy Leach.
Another impressive entry into Thorogood's long list of admirable facts: his 50/50 tour back in 1981, in which the band accomplished the feat of performing 50 concerts in 50 days — 51 gigs in total if you count the doubleheader of Washington, D.C., and Maryland. This sparked a brief war of words, as reported by our colleagues over at LA Weekly, between Thorogood's management and the Melvins, who announced back in 2012 that they'd be the first to pull off such a feat. Well, we love the Melvins, but the honor goes to the Destroyers, as evidenced in the full-page Billboard advertisement from the December 19, 1981, issue.
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Now, how can it be that a career composed almost exclusively of performing and covering songs by others has been so successful and, in a weird way, so fresh? It's easy. Thorogood doesn't ever try to one-up the masters. Where traditional "cover" bands fail in their frustrations shining through their work, Thorogood has proven at different intervals of his career that he is just as good as the source material he works with. After all this time, he's still too much in awe of those who preceded him to bother with his own material — which is just as righteous. Honesty and respect have gone a long way for him.
So while you will certainly get an awesome soundtrack of excellent rock 'n' roll when he hits Florida for three engagements (Melbourne, Daytona Beach, and Hollywood), you'll get the 100 percent party rock he's been living for 40-odd sweaty and boozy years.
George Thorogood & the Destroyers
With the Outlaws. 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $34 to $54 plus fees. Call 954-797-5531, or visit seminolehardrockhollywood.com.