Gary: “Here is a singer and a group, from the Seventies, that I have seen 3 times and still enjoy. No, they have never had a top 40 hit, but in concert they are fantastic. They were originally called ‘George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers’, but now are just know as ‘George Thorogood and the Destroyers’.
Although they have never been on the Billboard ‘Pop Chart’ they have sold over 15 Million Albums worldwide. I do realize that I enjoy them because I love blues, but they are just one fantastic group to see live. I have their latest endeavour ‘2120 South Michigan Avenue’ and I really enjoy it. So again, thanks for the indulgence and my look at George…
Early life and family
Thorogood was born on February 24, 1950 and was raised in Naamans Manor, a neighbourhood in suburban Wilmington, Delaware, where his father worked for DuPont.
He graduated from Brandywine High School in 1968. The singer was the middle of five children; including two older brothers, John and Pete, and two younger sisters, identical twins, Liza and Anne.
In the late 1970s, Thorogood played on a baseball team in Delaware in the semi-professional Roberto Clemente League, which was created in 1976. He was the second baseman and was chosen rookie of the year in the league. However, he turned toward music after seeing John P. Hammond perform in 1970.
By the late-1970s, success in the music industry led him to quit playing the sport and focus on music instead.
Thorogood’s demo, Better Than the Rest, was recorded in 1974, but would not be released until 1979. His major recording debut came in 1976 with the album: George Thorogood & The Destroyers, which was released in 1977. His band, The Destroyers was sometimes known as The Delaware Destroyers (or simply GT and D). In 1978, Thorogood released his next album with the Destroyers titled Move It On Over, which included the Hank Williams remake “Move It On Over“. “Please Set a Date” and their remake of the Bo Diddley song “Who Do You Love?” both followed in 1979.
During the late 1970s, Thorogood and his band were based in Boston (see also Hound Dog Taylor). He was friends with Jimmy Thackery of the Washington, D.C.-based blues band,The Nighthawks.
While touring in the 1970s, the Destroyers and the Nighthawks happened to be playing shows in Georgetown (DC) at venues across the street from each other. The Destroyers were engaged at The Cellar Door and the Nighthawks at Desperados. At midnight, by prior arrangement, while both bands played Elmore James‘ “Madison Blues” in the key of E, 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.
According to Thackery (in a 2011 exchange on Facebook), “A smart tech guy fixed us up with signal boosting cords to prevent a loss of signal due to the extraordinarily long guitar cables.” The connection with the Nighthawks was extended further, when Nighthawks bass player Jan Zukowski supported Thorogood’s set at the Live Aid concert in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 1985.
Thorogood gained his first mainstream exposure as a support act for The Rolling Stones during their 1981 U.S. tour. He also was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live(Season 8, Episode 2) on the October 2, 1982 broadcast.
During this time, Thorogood and the Destroyers also became known for their rigorous touring schedule, including the “50/50” tour of 1980, on which the band toured 50 US states in the space of 50 days.
After two shows in Boulder, Colorado, Thorogood and his band flew to Hawaii for one show and then performed a show in Alaska on the following night. The next day the band flew to Washington State, met their roadies who had their Checker car and a truck, and continued a one show per state tour for all fifty states in exactly fifty nights. In addition, they played Washington, D.C. on the same day that they performed a show in Maryland.
This increased visibility occurred as Thorogood’s contract with Rounder Records expired. He signed with EMI America Records and in 1982 released his best-known song, “Bad to the Bone“, and an album of the same name.
The song has been used frequently in television and film, including the television drama Miami Vice, the sci-fi thriller Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the comedies Problem Child, and Problem Child 2, Stephen King’s Christine, and many episodes of the television sitcom Married… with Children.
This track also was used during the intro to the movie Major Payne also used in the 1988 drama film Talk Radio. The same song is also featured in the game Rock ‘n Roll Racing.
It is also played during football pregame festivities at Mississippi State University and at USHRA Monster Jam events to introduce Grave Digger (regardless of driver). “Bad to the Bone” was used for the 1984 Buick Grand National advertisements. Thorogood’s version of “Who Do You Love?” is played in all Samuel Adams beer commercials.
In 2012, Thorogood was named one of The 50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years.
- George Thorogood – lead vocals and lead guitar
- Jeff Simon – drums, percussion (1973–present)
- Billy Blough – bass guitar (1977–present)
- Jim Suhler – rhythm guitar (1999–present)
- Buddy Leach – saxophone, piano (2003–present)
- Ron “Roadblock” Smith – rhythm guitar (1973–1980)
- Hank “Hurricane” Carter – saxophone (1980–2003)
- Steve Chrismar – rhythm guitar (1985–1993)