The day before George Thorogood is set to perform on the main stage at the Washington Town and Country Fair, the legendary guitarist/vocalist known the world over for his anthemic hit “Bad to the Bone,” will release his first-ever solo album.
“Party of One” will be released worldwide Aug. 4, both digitally and at retail stores, and Thorogood will take the stage at Fair Saturday night, Aug. 5, at 8:30 p.m.
But don’t expect him to play many of the songs from “Party of One” at the Fair. The new album is acoustic, and Thorogood wants the concert here to be a rocker.
The Missourian’s Currents Arts and Entertainment Editor Ethan Busse spoke to Thorogood in a phone interview about the show here and also about his music influences, his new album and baseball. Following are the highlights of that interview:
MISSOURIAN: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me before you come out to play our Fair . . . We are glad to have you.
THOROGOOD: The state of Missouri. That’s where Harry S. Truman is from, right? . . . Independence, Mo. Missouri is also the state that gave us Yogi Berra.
MISSOURIAN: That is true! . . . I heard you’re an avid baseball fan. Did you used to play?
THOROGOOD: Well, everybody played at one time, didn’t they? . . . Three things kept me out of the big leagues — I couldn’t hit, run or throw. Only two kinds of pitchers gave me trouble — right-handers and left-handers. So who do you guys follow? St. Louis Cardinals or the Kansas City Royals?
MISSOURIAN: We are mostly Cardinals, but we do support the Royals too. We root for both, unless they are against each other, then typically around here everybody leans toward the Cardinals.
MISSOURIAN: We asked a couple of our readers what they might want to know from you. Someone wanted to know if you are a Mets fan?
THOROGOOD: That is correct, I am.
Missourian: And you were a second baseman, whenever you did play?
THOROGOOD: I did that, yeah.
MISSOURIAN: What guitar players do you admire the most?
THOROGOOD: Probably Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, because they are the two most important guitar players there ever was. I mean, they’re the gap between blues and rock ’n’ roll. There was just blues before that, and when Bo and Chuck came along, they more or less invented rock ’n’ roll guitar, the two of them.
Bo Diddley went on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and Chuck Berry went on “(American) Bandstand,” so I would say they were probably the two most important guitar players that I ever listened to. Because you can hear the blues in their music. They revved it up and changed it into rock ’n roll, which they took what Muddy Waters did and Jimmy Reed did and B.B. King and Howlin’ Wolf and those people, and Chuck and Bo turned it into rock ’n’ roll.
That’s what changed the world, really, the world of music, anyway. And those two cats were most responsible for that. You can still hear Bo Diddley’s music, his guitar in a lot of classic rock music. You can hear his guitar in “Sympathy of the Devil,” “Magic Bus,” “Magic Carpet Ride” . . . and the Doors. You know, Bo’s rhythm is there a lot. If you listen closely, you can hear that.
Chuck Berry was the greatest rhythm guitar player and lead guitar player at the same time. Not many people can do that, can cover both as well as Chuck Berry did. John Fogerty is an excellent rhythm guitar and excellent lead guitar player. And Chuck Berry was really the first to be able to do that.
Missourian: I have even picked out Bo Diddley in ’80s music. Like “I Want Candy.” That’s just Bo Diddley.
Thorogood: I hear it in television commercials too, if you listen close. It pops up here and there. That’s the most unique rhythm and beat I’ve ever heard. I’ve never heard that rhythm or beat before Bo Diddley came along, but I can pick Chuck Berry’s music apart and find a little Jimmy Reed in there, a little Charlie Christian in there. There’s some Robert Johnson in there.
Bo’s thing is really, really unique. There was nothing ever like it before. He created it; where he got it, I don’t know. He said he got it from kids on the streets of Chicago playing patty-cake . . . and he picked up that rhythm from kids and banged it out on the guitar.
So I guess it was a natural part of children’s growing up and he had the insight to do that, which is why it’s still a part of us, I guess. That’s as good a theory as any.
Missourian: So you have a new album coming out . . . I think it releases the same week you are going to be here . . . Tell me a little bit about it.
Thorogood: It’s a solo album, just all acoustic stuff on it. Just me alone, a “Party of One.”
That’s how it started out back in the early ’70s, playing solo . . . I didn’t lay that down before I got rocking and rolling with the electric guitar. It’s something I had been putting off for years and . . . decided now would be a good time to do that.
Missourian: What can we expect in the show? I know we’re going to hear all of your hits, but are you going to do some of these stripped down songs during the show too?
Thorogood: No, I am not. It’s too hard to do. Too difficult for me. Sitting in a studio and doing takes over and over is one thing, but playing a live show, people come to rock . . . They’ve been wanting that since 1955.
Missourian: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans here?
Thorogood: All I can say is make sure you wear your safety belt to the show.
Sold More Than 15 Million Albums
Over the course of the last four decades, George Thorogood, with his longtime legendary band, The Destroyers, have sold more than 15 million albums, released 16 studio albums —including six gold and two platinum discs — and performed more than 8,000 live shows.
George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ catalog of hits include: “Who Do You Love?,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move It On Over,” “Get a Haircut” and the anthemic “Bad to the Bone.”
On Aug. 4, Thorogood will release his first-ever solo album, “Party of One,” on Rounder Records.
It features 15 solo recordings of Thorogood’s raw and stripped-down performances of traditional blues, classics and modern blues songs, with a bonus recording of “Dynaflow Blues” available on CD only.
“Party of One” features John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” Hank Williams’ “Pictures From Life’s Other Side,” the Rolling Stones’ “No Expectations,” and more.
“Party of One” was produced by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines (John Lee Hooker, Luther Allison and Stevie Ray Vaughan), who reunites with Thorogood on the debut solo project, having produced several of Thorogood’s biggest albums to date (“Ride ’Til I Die,” “The Hard Stuff,” and “The Dirty Dozen”).
The album’s primarily acoustic instrumentation —including slide, Dobro, and harmonica — is performed entirely by Thorogood, raw and stripped down, with an intimate one-on-one feel.
“I think this is a project that’s long overdue,” said Thorogood. “Maybe it should have been the very first album I ever made. After playing with the band for all these years, I had to kind of reverse my hands and my head in order to do this thing justice.
“But I think Destroyers fans — and hardcore blues fans, too —– are ready for the unexpected,” he continued. “My whole career, I’ve always said, ‘Just give them what you are, and they’re either going to dig it or not.’ This record is what I was, what I am, and what I always will be.”