Still ‘Bad to the Bone’

Published 10:17 am Thursday, July 10, 2014

George Thorogood will play at the Blue Chip Casino July 12. (Photo provided by Aaron Rapoport)

George Thorogood and The Destroyers will play at the Blue Chip Casino July 12. (Photo credit: Aaron Rapoport)

George Thorogood and The Destroyers rocking hard after 40 years

MICHIGAN CITY—Since late February, George Thorogood and the Destroyers have been crisscrossing North America, playing more than 100 dates on their anniversary tour, “40 Years Strong.”

Soon, fans in the Michiana area will have their own chance to see the iconic blues-rock band when they come to Blue Chip Casino’s Stardust Event Center on July 12.

“The schedule you see is nothing new for us. We generally do this every year,” George told me by phone last week, just a few hours before he and the band took the stage at the Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Indiana.

In fact, the band’s website quotes George as saying, “I consider my job description to be ‘live rock performer.’ When we play, whether it’s a great old theater, a brand new casino, an outdoor festival, wherever, we’re making a living doing what we love to do.”

With 15 million albums sold worldwide, and having performed over 8,000 live shows, it seemed natural to ask George look back to the beginning when he first got into rock ‘n’ roll.

OTW: How did you first get into playing rock ‘n’ roll?

GT: I couldn’t hit, run or throw, and I’m not as pretty as Paul Newman, so this was the natural thing. But really, any 11-year-old kid who saw the Ed Sullivan Show back in the 1960s wanted to become a rock star. All of us entertained the idea of being a rock star.

OTW: Was that when you first picked up a guitar?

GT: It was really a couple years later when I got the first Rolling Stones record that put the seed in my head. Then, when I heard the Allman Brothers, Johnny Winter, Taj Mahal and some of those other guys, and they were using a slide guitar, I knew I could do it. I had no doubt in my mind that I could do it….I was just shooting to be the opening act for the J. Geils Band. I saw other bands opening for them, and some of them were just terrible. Jeff [Simon] and I said, “We can do better than that!”

OTW: So, were those bands really your influences as you were coming up?

GT: Really, it was listening to the guitar-playing of John Hammond, J. Geils and Hound Dog Taylor. I would say those were the big three.

OTW: You’ve been playing with some of the guys in your band for a long time now, haven’t you?

GT: I’ve been playing with Jeff since almost the beginning. I was friends with his brother, and we grew up in the same neighborhood. He was willing to learn, had a good attitude, and no prison record. All he had to do was learn to play the drums.

OTW: That’s a long time to be playing together. How have you managed to do it? I mean, the Beatles couldn’t last that long together. Most bands can’t.

GT: We make sure we spend a lot of time away from each other.

OTW: How do you do that when you’re playing more than 100 shows a year?

GT: We have two different buses!

OTW: The other guys in the band have been with you for a long time, too, haven’t they?

GT: Yes, our bass player, Bill Blough, has been with us since 1976, our guitarist, Jim Suhler, has been with us since 1999, and our sax player, Buddy Leach, has been playing with us since 2003.

OTW: What made you choose blues-rock over some other type of music?

GT: Rock ‘n’ roll is just the blues played faster. Blues is the doorway to rock. That’s the roots of the whole thing. Why would you want to play anything else?

OTW: My 14-year-old son just downloaded “Bad to the Bone” a few months ago. What do you think it is about your music that makes it continue to appeal to the younger generations? To what do you attribute your staying power?

GT: Anything that’s good is going to last. I mean, why do people keep watching “The Wizard of Oz?” It’s the same thing. If it’s good, people are going to keep wanting more of it.

OTW: What do you think you might have gotten into if you hadn’t gone into rock ‘n’ roll?

GT: Probably jail (laughing). Seriously, though, think about it. Could you see Keith Richards working in an accounting firm or Tom Petty teaching phys ed? Some people just weren’t cut out to be anything else. I would have gone into rock’ n’ roll even if I hadn’t been successful at it. It was meant to be. You’ve got a destiny that’s waiting for you.

OTW: So, I’m guessing that the audience can expect to hear all of your big hits at the upcoming show?

GT: Yeah, we’re going to give them what they want. The audience is gonna hear all the hits. That’s what they’re coming out to hear. Some of these bands get up there and play some song off an album that nobody’s ever heard of and no one ever liked. Can you imagine if we did that?

OTW: It sounds like it’s going to be a great show, George. Is there anything else you’d like to say?

GT: Yeah. I have a message for your son. Tell him to take care of Mom. She’s been taking care of you for too long.

If you want to hear the iconic George Thorogood and his seasoned band the Destroyers play hits like “Bad to the Bone,” “Who Do You Love?” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and “I Drink Alone,” they’ll hit the stage at 8 p.m. (Central Time) on July 12.

Tickets are on sale for $40, $50 and $70, and can be purchased by credit card at or in person at The Gift Box in the Blue Chip Casino pavilion. Guests must be 21 or older and have a valid state- or government-issued photo ID.