George Thorogood sure knows how to butter up an interviewer. Before we can even get a question out, the Delaware native — who was a semipro ballplayer before crafting '80s blooze-rock staples "Bad to the Bone" and "Born to Be Bad" — is off and running about how much he admires former Astros spark plug and hopeful future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, especially how Biggio was thrown out at second base on hit No. 3,000.
"That was his whole career, trying to stretch it into a double," he says. "I've got a lot of respect for the man. He played some tough positions his whole career."
Thanks, George. We're big fans of Biggio's too, and were eventually able to steer the conversation back to music.
Chatter: How were you first introduced to the blues?
George Thorogood: Well, I was a big Rolling Stones fan before they put out their Top 40 singles. I liked their first three albums, where they did pretty much blues covers. That got my interest going, and then when I watched them on television they brought Howlin' Wolf on. That made a big impression on me. I started gathering blues records from that point on, trying to figure out where this thing all came from.
C: Where were some of the places you played when you were first starting out?
GT: I first started playing on a street corner. I was a street musician, and I caught the ear of a couple of club owners. I got a gig with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, I got a gig with Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, and after that decided to form a three-piece band. We just worked anywhere. We started working at a topless club, actually. No place else would have us. We literally started at the bottom and crawled our way to the middle.
C: What's the most unusual movie, TV or commercial placement you've seen for "Bad to the Bone"?
GT: I'm surprised that some of the trailers for family movies or children's movies [use it]. But you have to understand something — it's not the song that they're really interested in, it's the hook. It's just that opening riff. It makes people turn their heads. Originally, it surprised me it was in Parent Trap and Problem Child, kids' movies, and then I started to figure it out. That riff is what catches people's attention. It's like a red flag.
C: How important is it for musicians to come up with a signature riff like that?
GT: That's funny. Musicians, no. They don't have to worry about it. Regular people like me do. Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, who were real musicians, don't have to do that kind of thing. They played music so good, they got people's attention. For regular people like me, I had to come up with something catchy. You know what I'm saying? Shakespeare does not need a calling card.
Hopefully you've already read about Super Happy Fun Land's SXSW Overflow Fest on page 17 of this week's issue. The festival that inspired Overflow Fest (sort of, anyway), South by Due East, returns to Dan Electro's Guitar Bar (1031 E. 24th St.) Friday through Sunday. Organized by Houston musician Guy Schwarz of the New Jack Hippies, SXDE records footage of local artists for use on the Web, public-access TV, KPFT radio — which, by the way, starts celebrating its 40th anniversary with an all-day blowout Sunday at McGonigel's Mucky Duck (2425 Norfolk) — and compilation CDs. Some of this year's performers include Nosaprise, Tyagaraja, Rozz Zamorano, Buxton, Allison Fisher, Dubtex, D.R.U.M., Shina Rae, Richard Cagle & the Voodoo Choir, the Snake Charmers and Karina Nistal. Doors open to the public at 5 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; admission is free. See the complete lineup and make a donation at www.southbydueeast.com.
88 E. Crosstimbers, 713-694-6800
1. Jaheim, Another Round
2. Sade, Soldier of Love
3. Slim Thug, Welcome 2 Texas
4. Lil C Presents Z-Ro & J-Dawg, I Ain't Takin No Loss 2
5. Ms. Jody, Ms. Jody's In the Streets
6. Swisha House, Real Shit
7. Trey Songz, Ready
8. Jay'ton, Got It by the Ton
9. Various Artists, WOW Gospel 2010
10. Drake, It's Been a Pleasure
1. Josh Turner, "Why Don't We Just Dance"
2. Toby Keith, "Cryin' for Me (Wayman's Song)"
3. Luke Bryan, "Do I"
4. Carrie Underwood, "Temporary Home"
5. Kellie Pickler, "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You"
6. Lady Antebellum, "Need You Now"
7. Dierks Bentley, "I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes"
8. Taylor Swift, "Fearless"
9. Easton Corbin, "A Little More Country Than That"
10. Clay Walker, "She Won't Be Lonely Long"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.