Still ‘Bad to the Bone’: George Thorogood and the Destroyers set for classic blues-rock concert

George Thorogood and the Destroyers will perform Sunday at Brown County Music Center.

When it comes explaining his own success and longevity, George Thorogood is b-b-b-b-bad to the bone.

“It’s no secret,” he said, speaking by phone recently from his Los Angeles home, though he initially claimed “I cannot divulge the whereabouts of my location, due to the fact that I am a fugitive from injustice.”

The playful Thorogood, who answered the call zippily singing “Hey there, Georgie girl,” is super serious about rock history, especially his own. He took a minute to explain why, at age 74, he and his bluesy band the Destroyers, who will be in concert at 7 p.m. Sunday at Nashville’s Brown County Music Center, are still creating more than a half century after they began and still in demand in a fickle and faddish industry.

“You’ll have to bear with me a little bit, OK?” he said.

Then the Delaware native proceeded to detail how album-oriented rock radio came along just before the group released its first disc in 1977. Later, when the band needed another boost, along came MTV to give the 1982 single “Bad to the Bone” the huge lift that soon made it the group’s signature song. Other numbers such as “I Drink Alone,” and “You Talk Too Much” got great exposure there, too.

“Then, a few years after that, along comes something called classic rock radio,” he said. “Got it?”

That recurring inquiry became his trademark check-in during the rest of the conversation, sounding for all the world like a professor of pop-rock making sure his class was following his trail of step-by-step developments.

Classic rock radio then came of age in the 1990s and turned “Bad to the Bone” into gold.

“Before that, it was really just a nice song in our set,” Thorogood said. “But suddenly, it began to be played next to ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash,’ and boom — we’ve got a classic on our hands. Got it?”

What rocker at heart over the age of maybe 50 doesn’t have that tune embellished somewhere in their life’s party soundtrack? A moment later, Thorogood remembered he had a concert to promote — plus a Carb Day headlining performance May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to discuss. He sees his music dovetailing pretty perfectly with a bit of racing and rebellion.

Plus, he explained that it has blended with one other sociological development.

“Casino rock,” he said emphatically of casino concerts that have grown nationwide. “It has three things that make big money: beer, rock ‘n’ roll and gambling. And we fit perfectly right into all that, without even changing our songs. The House of Blues became all the rage.

“So, you ask me for a secret for all these years? No secret. Our musical style simply fit into all these developments. We have been so fortunate to have the right kind of songs for the right time — all of these new things that have shown up. We were like an A&P supermarket filled with cheeseburgers and beer.

“People know if you stock the place with that, you’ll never go broke. And we’ve become a staple.

“I’ve always wanted to be a recognized brand — like Chevy or Ford. Got it?”

When he spoke of the weekend Brown County date, humor prevailed over immediate details.

“Setlist?” he asked brightly. “Oh yeah. We got a setlist. Three songs on it: ‘Bad to the Bone,’ ‘Move It On Over,’ and ‘One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer.’ That’s our setlist.

“I sure hope that will make people happy. Because that’s all I know how to play.”

Then he unleashed a laugh as robust and rowdy as one of his sizzling, signature guitar solos.

Everything about his conversation brimmed with gratitude.

“All music,” he said, “is medicine. Got it? You can listen to it (as medicine) in the car on the way to a job — even a job you don’t even like, before you go home to a wife you don’t even like or a husband you don’t even like. Music is maybe more accessible than anything. And it’s as strong as drugs — and maybe even stronger than drugs.”

Can you tell he loves his calling?

“Maybe only 3% of the population gets to do what I do,” he said. “Even (former) presidents like Obama want to be rock ‘n roll star.”

Yep. Just like George Thorogood, regularly at the right place at the right time. Got it?

About the concert

Who: Classic blues rocker George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

When: 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Brown County Music Center, 200 Maple Leaf Boulevard in Nashville.