Backstage Pass: Is George Thorogood still 'Bad to the Bone?'

Grab a glass of your favorite poison — we suggest one bourbon, one scotch and one beer — and kick back with raspy-voiced, blues rocker George Thorogood, who has built a career around making rich women beg, good women steal, old women blush and young girls squeal.
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George Thorogood has blazed a searing blues-rock guitar trail since his debut release Move It On Over in 1978. But, its his 1982 album, Bad To The Bone, that still resonates with listeners to this day.

And it doesn’t hurt that the album’s title track remains a popular choice for movie inclusions and is still in heavy rotation on classic rock radio. That hasn’t gone unnoticed at EMI. The label recently released a 25th Anniversary edition of the CD that included seven bonus tracks. Thorogood — who still tours hard — was more than happy to speak with Goldmine about the reissue.



Goldmine: Did you have a hand in what ultimately made it onto the CD, or did EMI have some material hiding in the vaults?

George Thorogood: No, EMI didn’t have a whole lot to select from of unreleased material, so they strongly requested if we would record some of the songs over, which I was delighted to do because I don’t think ... with the exception of maybe one or two songs that are on the original that came out in ‘82, there’s no doubt that, generally, the Destroyers have had pretty good taste in selecting music, but a lot of the recordings I question.

I wasn’t a proficient enough guitarist to handle most of the material on that record. I handled “Bad To The Bone” OK, but that was about it. And then, there were tunes where I said, “We need another guitarist.” So, when we got Jim Suhler an hour into “As The Years Go Passing By” and [did] it as it’s supposed to be done ... I could never play that flat-picking blues, Albert King, B.B. King style, but Jimmy is a genius at that. And stuff like “Wanted Man” and “Blue Highway”... I mean, Bob Dylan is a great songwriter, and so is Dick Gravenites, and those are good songs. And the only reason I did ‘em is because I knew somebody else might do ‘em, and I wanted to have a very versatile record.



GM: So, re-recording six of the seven songs was actually better than providing the outtakes, right?

GT: This is the way they should have been done to begin with. The originals were the outtakes (laughs)! So, what you’re getting now is the real thing.



GM:
The one non re-recorded track that was included on the CD is “That Philly Thing.” What can you tell me about that?



GT:
It’s an instrumental. EMI was still on the tail end of the days when people still released singles. And they released “Nobody But Me,” and they wanted an original for the flip side. I learned something from The Rolling Stones in their early days and Phil Spector: They always put an original on the flip side of their singles. You make more money. On the Spector records, the band that backed up the girl-vocal band would do an instrumental, and then Spector would take credit for it (laughs). But, he’d get the royalties, you know what I’m saying? And that’s what we did with an instrumental that we were fooling around with.



GM:
Does it make you happy when a label springs a project on you and says, “Here’s what we’re gonna do?”

GT: Well, first of all, they don’t “spring” it on you before you know it. They’re a business, like anything else, and when you have product sitting on the shelf, like in a supermarket, you figure out a way to market it. They figure out, “What can we do with this?” I’m always saying, “What can we do five years fr