George Thorogood: "Sometimes the Fear of Failure Is Greater Than the Thrill of Success"
Forgive and forget. This simple philosophy seems lost on George Thorogood as he remains bitter and angry toward the record company that released his debut album some 37 years ago.
Courtesy Photo Rock 'n' roll legend George Thorogood: "Fear is the greatest motivator"
Though the album contained what became his signature song (his rousing cover of Amos Milburn's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer") and catapulted him and his band the Destroyers from bluesy bar busters to arena rockers, Thorogood still fumes over the fact that the album was initially delayed 18 months over an issue with the cover photos. How come? Rounder Records, "didn't like to spend any money," he says with a growl in his voice.
That growl, of course, is something of a trademark. Thorogood admittedly never could sing like Robert Plant or Robert Daltrey -- and he was no Jeff Beck on guitar. Yet, Thorogood found something that worked, a rough and ready style highlighting his primarily bluesy slide guitar playing -- and he's been doing it nonstop for 40 years.
Up on the Sun caught up with Thorogood during a California tour stop to discuss his playing style, label shenanigans, fear as a motivator, and that at one time he was actually a pretty good baseball player.
Hi, George, how are you doing today?
Yeah, bad to the bone.
You must be somewhat obligated to say that at this point.
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Sure, and considering the song appears in numerous soundtracks, people have gotten used to that coming from you as well.
Gotten used to it? I didn't think anybody would get used to Thorogood.
Obviously, they have. It's been 40 years already since your career began. Does that blow your mind at all, especially after saying you didn't think anyone would get used to you?
I didn't really think about it very much at that time [when my career started]. I was at a day-by-day thing. Since 1965-66, it was a foregone conclusion I would have a career as a music performer. For me to last so long, a career is only going to last as long as you're alive, living and breathing, I didn't know I was going to be doing this at 40, let alone now.
You can't look into a crystal ball and see the future. I did have a vision of what I wanted to do. I had a backlog of songs I wanted to record and some ideas for some records. I wanted to have a musical career along the lines of John Hammond or Elvin Bishop or Duane Allman. I didn't have that, but for it to last this long . . . no one knows what's going to happen.