George Thorogood & The Delaware Destroyers

News item: George Thorogood & The Destroyers has canceled the spring dates of its 50th-anniversary tour due to a “serious medical condition.” The powerhouse rock band kicked off the tour on the Rock Legends Cruise X in February before returning to land for further dates through March. After a month’s break, the tour was set to resume at the end of April in Vancouver, BC, and run through May 21.

However, a press release has now confirmed that those dates have been canceled due to Thorogood being diagnosed with a “very serious medical condition that will require immediate surgery and quite a few weeks of recuperation and healing.”

While we wish Lonesome George a speedy recovery and send him our best wishes and all that good stuff, it’s a good time to revisit his catalog of rock’n boogie blues. This is a repost of something I wrote a while back.

George Thorogood occupies a unique space in the history of blues. To my knowledge, he may be the only rocker to not only record and tour but also alternate as a semi-professional baseball player. This was in the ’70’s at the height of his popularity, don’t know if he’s still doing both of those things. (He’s a NY Mets fan.)

Thorogood started out as a solo performer in the ’70’s and went on to form a band with some high school friends who called themselves the Delaware Destroyers. (George is from Wilmington.) The band became known for their incredibly high-energy blues-rock fests, largely consisting of jacked-up versions of old blues tunes.

George traveled the blues circuit in the ’70’s and was friends with Jimmy Thackery of the Nighthawks. One night in D.C, per Wikipedia, “At midnight, by prior arrangement, while both bands played Elmore James’ “Madison Blues, Thorogood and Thackery left their clubs, met in the middle of M Street, exchanged guitar patch cords and went on to play with the opposite band in the other club.” It was that kinda scene.

Famously, George signed up with Rounder Records, a Massachusetts-based label founded by three college friends who had a love of folk, old country, and bluegrass music. (Since moved to Nashville.) I recall at the time that some accused Rounder of selling out as the Destroyers could not have been further from their stated genre. Their defense, if you will, is that George was trafficking in blues which fit their label.

“We’d released a few blues records, mainly field recordings, but George was as electrifying on stage back then as he is now,” says Rounder Music Group Vice President of A&R Scott Billington. “It was the same time that punk rock was becoming popular, and it was the right time for someone to come along with a true back-to-basics approach.” (Right. While everybody was listening to the Clash I was listening to George. But then I caught up with the Clash.)

“George was so passionate about the music he played and the musicians he respected so much, whether it was John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed or Hank Williams. Like the British Invasion before, he brought these songs to new audiences and made them come alive in a whole new way.”

Whatever the reason, George made Rounder and Rounder made George. Recorded in 1977 in Boston, where George and band were then located, the Destroyers hit the ground running with their eponymous debut album.

Radio back then was a mix of punk, disco, and bands like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. Relatively speaking, blues was nowhere. But George put it back on the map and his cover of John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” was an FM staple. George combined it with another Hooker song, “House Rent Boogie.”

Spotify link

I tell you George was HOT back then. We saw him play at the now-defunct Harvard Square Theater one fine night. (Same place where Jon Landau a few years prior said he’d seen the future of rock and roll and his name was Bruce Springsteen.) The guy puts on a Springsteen-level show, not necessarily in terms of duration but every bit his equal in energy and showmanship. The two best live performers I think I’ve ever seen.

In a never-to-be-repeated situation, as we were leaving the show that night long ago, some guy working there said, “Hey I have some tickets for the second show. Want ’em?” So we bought them and went right back in and danced on the seats for another hour and a half. If I did that today I’d need a respirator, a nurse and a box of Wheaties.

Like AC/DC, George has two speeds – fast and faster. Hard and harder. Here’s George and company updating Hank Willams’ “Move It On Over.” To quote the Stones he is live’r than you’ll ever be:

Spotify link

In fact, George was fishing in the same pond as the British rockers and so it wasn’t too long before he came to the attention of the Stones. The Stones have (mostly) always had good instincts in who to have as their opening act and in 1981, brought the Destroyers on their US tour.

I didn’t go to this show for some stupid reason but I recall it being broadcast on pay-per-view and going over to some guy’s house to party and watch it. In that same year, George did his 50/50 tour, fifty cities in fifty days. And lived to tell about it.

If Lonesome George has a signature song it’s one he wrote called, “Bad to the Bone.” Let Thorogood tell the story: “I wrote that song for Muddy Waters. I thought it was perfect for him. I’m bad to the bone? What could be better for Muddy? But he passed on it, so I gave it to Bo Diddley. He didn’t record it because he didn’t have a deal with a label at the time.

Finally I recorded it myself, and eventually, it turned into what it’s become. But you don’t think I would have loved to have one of those do it? I never saw it as a song for me. As for how successful it became, well, I don’t know why. I mean, there was no Terminator 2 when I wrote it. Hell, there wasn’t even a Terminator 1! (Also used in Steven King’s Christine.)

I make a rich woman beg, I’ll make a good woman steal
I’ll make an old woman blush, and make a young woman squeal
I wanna be yours pretty baby, yours and yours alone
I’m here to tell ya honey, that I’m bad to the bone

Spotify link

George is now 73 and I think the road is starting to catch up with him. If he comes back you know he’ll come back strong. Will I go see him? I’m kinda done with seeing most bands but, well, maybe for old times sake.

Oh, one more thing. Can he do Chuck Berry? Please. “It Wasn’t Me.” Play loud for maximum impact:

Spotify link

If you can’t get enough of Ol’ George while you’re driving around in your Buick Electra 225 (“deuce and a quarter”) here is – as a guy I know says – a shit ton.

13 thoughts on “George Thorogood & The Delaware Destroyers

  1. One band I sure regret never having seen, despite owning several albums. 100% flat out rockin’ blues. Music as God intended! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fuckin’ ay! “God gave rock and roll to you.” When he comes back, if he’s in your area, try to see him. Best live performer this side of Springsteen.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you did and Lordy, it was like, 6 or 7 years ago. The Doc always appreciates CB’s comments. But what I really wanted to do with this post is apprise everybody of George’s health, wish him a speedy recovery. And the Doc will be deeply disappointed if CB doesn’t crank a Destroyer tune or three.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It doesn’t suck. BTW, don’t know whether or not you’re a Bond fan but I LOVE spy stuff. Gonna watch all the Bonds in a row. First was Dr. No, next up, From Russia With Love. First Bond movie I ever saw. For me there’s Connery and wannabes.


  3. The first Bonds are where I go. I watched in chronological a few years ago. Got as far as a few Moore’s and then lost interest. Tried a couple after his run. Just wasnt there for me anymore. Maybe I should of took bigger breaks between them. They got Smokey and the Bandit like. Against popular thought I liked the Lazenby turn. Savalas and the story grabbed me. I did go on a Harry Palmer (Caine) jag and liked those a lot.
    Great villains in those first Bonds. Shaw, Frobe (with Oddjob), Pleasnace.


    1. I’m with you on that. You should give the Daniel Craig flicks a shot. Good, versatile actor. His Bond is colder, less humorous than Connery’s. Probably more like what Ian Fleming intended.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I seen a couple. Cant differentiate They run into each other for me. Non stop barrage. I watched just to break up my viewing. Every once in a while I have to see what’s going on in the world. I do like Craig. maybe Ill give an other viewing. Sometimes they catch a different mood with me. On your recommendation Ill do it.


  4. That news about George doesn’t sound great. Hopefully, he’ll be okay. You just know that with the type of music he’s playing, it must be a ball to see him live. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen him to date.


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