George Thorogood 

You wanna survive in showbiz? Wanna last in this rock 'n' roll racket? Just listen to blues rocker George Thorogood. Eat your greens. Get some Z's.

"I have never underestimated the value of a good night's sleep," Thorogood says. "I asked Chuck Berry once, I said, 'Chuck, if there's one thing that's the bottom line to success on any level, what is it?' And he said, 'George, you gotta eat right.' So I try to eat right. I try to get as much rest as I can. I get myself in a horizontal position as often as possible."

Naps and meals aside, if it weren't for George Thorogood, there's a good chance you may never have heard about Bo Diddley or John Lee Hooker or Hound Dog Taylor. For the past 40-plus years, Thorogood has not only reverently shed light on these legendary artists and more, but has made their tunes his own. We all like to act a little high-tone, like a bunch of vintage aficionados, but chances are, if you grew up on rock in the 70's on upwards to today, the first time you heard "Madison Blues" was out of Thorogood and not Elmore James.

At 64, the man still gets jazzed when talking about the blues and its icons.

"It was the foundation of every rock band I ever — I don't want to say idolized — liked," he says. "Like Bo Diddley, the Rolling Stones, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, J. Geils — I'll stop right there — they all started with the blues. You have to learn that blues foundation in order to be a qualified rock act. The three artists that really captured my imagination and put it in my head were John Hammond, Peter Wolf and the J. Geils Band, and Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers. I looked at those three and said, 'They're the ones that are doing it.' I looked at them and said, 'That's it; that's what I wanna do.'"

Thorogood and his band, The Delaware Destroyers, are sho-nuff qualified — and bonified, jack. The band has released 16 studio albums (two certified Platinum, six certified Gold) and have sold 15 million worldwide.

And then there's the live show. Thorogood is a relentless entertainer with an onstage persona that calls to mind Little Richard crossed with Godzilla. His big, bad guitar fills the room with its sheer slide and a throaty growl akin to his voice.

"Our show is pretty versatile," says Thorogood. "We do a lot of stuff. When we do 'Born To Be Bad,' that's like Steppenwolf. When we do 'Who Do You Love?' that's John Hammond and Bo Diddley. When we do 'Night Time,' that's J. Geils all the way. When we do 'I Drink Alone,' that's me. 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer,' that's John Lee Hooker. 'Cocaine Blues' is Johnny Cash mixed in with a little Gramm Parsons. And our show has all that going for us. We're a smorgasbord of Americana and American rock 'n' roll from 1948 to 1968."

No one else is doing it, either. No one new anyway, according to Thorogood. He is not impressed with today's crop. There's nobody new that excites him.

"No, there isn't," he says. "There's B.B. King, there's Buddy Guy, John Hammond, Charlie Musselwhite: anything outside of that is pretty much an interpretation of the blues. You've got to understand, my first gig was with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. My second was with Robert Lockwood Jr., then Hound Dog Taylor, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf. I came in at the eleventh hour of the real blue thing. After that I said, 'That's it, man.' The rest is an interpretation of the blues; it's not the real blues."

George Thorogood shows no sign of slowing down. There're still plenty of houses to be rocked.

"Some people want to rest on their laurels," he says. "And I say, 'What if you have no laurels?' I have to keep tweaking my act and make it better than it ever was. That's how you stay in business."

Tweaking, eating right, plenty of sleep, got it.

When it's all over, 100 years from now, what'll they say? Thorogood sums up his legacy: "Now there's a guy who got the job done."

George Thorogood and The Destroyers perform Saturday, June 28, 9 p.m. at the City of Rochester East Avenue & Chestnut Street Stage. This show is free.

In This Guide...

  • JAZZ FEST 2014: City's Daily Jazz Blogs

    Reviews and photos from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
    The 2014 Xerox International Jazz Festival runs June 20-28, and City Newspaper will be out EVERY NIGHT of the festival, covering multiple shows. Check in first thing each morning for photos and reviews of the previous night's entertainment, listed below by date.

  • Jazz Festival Guide 2014

    CITY Newspaper's guide to the biggest music festival in Rochester! For more coverage, check our website every day of the festival for reviews, blogs, photos and more!

  • Festival Information

    The 2014 Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival Friday, June 20-Saturday, June 28

  • Friday, June 20 - Schedule

    4:30 p.m.: Hilton High School Jazz Band City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 5:15 p.m.: Canandaigua High School Jazz Band City of Rochester Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

  • Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

    I called up Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's trumpeter Glen "The Kid" Marhevka to discuss his band, its brand of swing, its longevity in the swing scene, its hepcat haberdashery, and its impact on swing. That's right — swing, swing, and more swing.

  • Friday, June 20 - Musician Bios

    Akiko Tsuruga Quartet When the Lou Donaldson Quartet played the XRIJF a few years ago, the audience couldn't help but notice a second star on the stage. Behind the B-3 organ playing one great solo after another was Osaka, Japan, native Akiko Tsuruga.

  • Saturday, June 21 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: Brighton High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:00 p.m.: Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers Featuring Edie Brickell Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (SOLD OUT)

  • Jason Marsalis

    With pianist Ellis Marsalis and his famous sons, Wynton (trumpet), Branford (saxophone), Delfeayo (trombone), and Jason (drums/vibes), the Marsalis family of New Orleans can stake a claim as the first family of jazz. But if that conjures up images of a father and his sons jamming in the living room, well... that's just not how it was.

  • Saturday, June 21 - Musician Bios

    78 RPM Big Band Starting out as Oktoberfest band The Happy Wanderers, back in 1973, the 16-piece 78 RPM Big Band is based in classic big band, but often branches out into unique versions of contemporary cuts. (JC)

  • Sunday, June 22 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: West Irondequoit High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:30 p.m.: Newark High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

  • Cécile McLorin Salvant

    If you go to hear Cécile McLorin Salvant at Kilbourn Hall, you might find yourself squirming in your seat. McLorin Salvant has no qualms about singing songs like "You Bring Out The Savage In Me," a tune few have dared to touch since Valaida Snow sang it in the 1930's."I've had time to delve into the history of early 20th-century American music, vaudeville, minstrel shows, coon songs, and some jungle music," McLorin Salvant says.

  • Sunday, June 22 - Musician Bios

    Benedikt Jahnel Trio With titles of tunes like "Equilibrium" and "Modular Concepts," you might think the Benedikt Jahnel Trio is too cerebral to enjoy the wonder of jazz. On the contrary, the German-born pianist is a joyous player, with a shimmering, melodic sound and a dynamic touch.

  • Monday, June 23 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: John Nyerges Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: John Sneider Student Workshop Eastman School of Music (Room 120) (FREE)

  • Vijay Iyer

    If you visit the website of pianist-composer Vijay Iyer, you will be greeted with a blurred portrait of a man, vaguely recognizable as Iyer, dashing through an urban landscape. It's a fitting visual metaphor for the frenetic musical journey Iyer has taken over the past two decades.

  • Monday, June 23 - Musician Bios

    Bonerama No, it's not a Vanessa Del Rio flick, it's a four-trombone-powered outfit from New Orleans that makes Phil Spector's "wall of sound" seem like a cardboard fence. This 'bone barrage is the brass band equivalent of a muscle car with a horny teenager at the wheel.

  • Tuesday, June 24 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Gabe Condon Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Sophie Bancroft & Tom Lyne Duo Student Workshop Eastman School of Music Ray Wright Room (Room 120) (FREE)

  • Louis Hayes

    Louis Hayes was just 19 and living on Detroit's west side when his reputation caught up with him. Pianist Horace Silver, fresh out of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, had heard about the young drummer.

  • Tuesday, June 24 - Musician Bios

    Blind Boy Paxton Despite his abbreviated age, Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton is a master of pre-war, acoustic blues. We're talking the storied sounds of Lonnie Johnson, Robert Johnson, and Bessie Smith — to name a few — wrought by a multi-instrumentalist in his mid-20's.

  • Wednesday, June 25 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Mel Henderson and Paradigm Shift Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Jonathan Gee Eastman School of Music RAY WRIGHT ROOM (Room 120)

  • Diane Schuur

    Through the snap, crackle, and pop of a long distance phone call, and suffering from jet lag, Diane Schuur's voice is still absolutely beautiful. She has just returned from an engagement in Osaka, Japan.

  • Wednesday, June 25 - Musician Bios

    5Head Rochester madcap ska skanksters 5Head are full of pants-optional hi-jinx and contagious back beat that starts at your feet and ends with you attempting dance moves that would have put Fred Astaire in traction. This band features lighthearted fun played by some of the best musicians this town has.

  • Thursday, June 26 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Nate Rawls Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Ian Shaw Eastman School of Music (Room 120) (FREE)

  • Thursday, June 26 - Musician Bios

    Anders Hagberg Quartet If you caught Yggdrasil in one of its appearances at the XRIJF, you've heard the wonderful range of sounds Swedish musician Anders Hagberg coaxes out of his soprano saxophone and flutes. When he plays the gigantic contrabass flute, it's a thrilling journey, filled with percussive breathing and scat-singing, and sounds like the workings of several musicians.

  • Friday, June 27 - Schedule

    12:00 p.m.: Vince Ercolamento Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County (FREE) 1:00 p.m.: Pat LaBarbera Quartet Eastman School of Music Ray Wright Room (Room 120) (FREE)

  • Friday, June 27 - Musician Bios

    Bill Frisell's Guitar In the Space Age Every time Bill Frisell has appeared here, it's been with his eyes on the sonic future; sounds and progressions rarely, if ever heard. This time around, he's got his eye on the origins of his instrument.

  • Saturday, June 28 - Schedule

    3:45 p.m.: MCC Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE) 4:30 p.m.: Webster Schroeder High School Jazz Band Jazz Street Stage (FREE)

  • Saturday, June 28 - Musician Bios

    Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys Chuck Mead burst on the scene with the three-time Grammy-nominated retro-hillbilly outfit BR549. With the band officially on hiatus, Mead has focused on a solo career and producing the Broadway hit "Million Dollar Quartet."

  • Club Pass Schedule Chart

    View the chart (web-sized) | Download the chart (print-sized)

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