George Thorogood’s ode come brawlin’ and heart breakin’ bad To The Bone was inspired by The rolling Stones and practically recorded by Bo Diddley. Surprisingly, it was never ever a large hit

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George Thorogood & The Destroyers top top American Banstand"s Dance challenge in 1981(Image credit: ABC photograph Archives )
In the summer of 1981, a white bluesman referred to as George Thorogood, indigenous Delaware, watched a roll Stones concert indigenous the wings, and asked self what they had that that didn’t. 

Thorogood and his tape – at the time drummer Jeff Simon and also bassist invoice Blough – had took pleasure in sufficient success with their debut album come be invite to open up for the Stones ~ above that us tour. Unfortunately, Thorogood’s schoolboy fantasy was being soured through the muted audience reaction to his collection of blues standards. 

“I go those gigs through the Stones,” Thorogood recalls, “and ns noticed the every time they got in the opened of Start Me Up – the a an extremely brief opening, and there’s a pause – the an answer from the audience was simply over-the-top. 

"So I claimed to myself: ‘Georgie, friend gotta come up with a song, kid. You gotta write something the gets that an answer when you go into it.’ Cos if ns don’t, climate 10 years from now civilization are gonna say: ‘Do you remember a guy referred to as George Thorogood?’ and also most the ’em are gonna say: ‘Oh yeah. Wasn’t he good at play Chuck Berry covers?’” 

Thorogood collection to work. The musical foundation on i beg your pardon he constructed his signature tune was straightforward enough: a call-and-response slide guitar riff the tipped its cap to the at an early stage blues. 

“We in reality took it come a musicologist,” Thorogood recalls, “because us didn’t desire to get sued and also I didn’t want to blatantly rip someone off. I was do the efforts to get it to be something that nobody had heard before, yet for it to still repeat you of stuff."

The text took longer. And Thorogood finally settled on a title inspired by united state slang of the era: “Our word in the neighbourhood was ‘bad’. “It was an different word, prefer ‘hip’ or ‘groovy’. And there to be this guy in the neighbourhood that would constantly say: ‘Bad come death’. So i thought, hmmm… ‘Bad to the bone’. It was so typical to say the word, so i knew that eventually someone was going to write this song, and also it might also be me."

Due come the autobiographical nature of the lyrics, the philandering outlaw of Bad to The Bone is frequently taken to be Thorogood himself. However “it’s a pure fantasy”, that says. “It’s like, a male will hear to it and also think: ‘I’d like to be that guy’, or a girl will listen to it and also think: ‘I’d prefer to be with a male like that’. It’s no me.” 

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After the song was completed, somewhere along the heat Thorogood hit on the idea of questioning veteran bluesman Muddy Waters to document it. 

“I thought it’d be great for him,” that remembers. “But he wouldn’t even listen to it. His manager said: ‘Muddy will certainly absolutely no listen to any type of songs created for that by white civilization – hell be offended by that’. And also I claimed ‘bullshit – if i was Clapton or Keith Richards, he’d document it in a minute’. I wasn’t a high-profile enough. 

“So ns turned come Bo Diddley. I was interested in getting him to record it, and he was interested in recording it. However he didn’t have a document deal. So that was down to yours truly to obtain the song out there.” 

At the time freshly signed to the EMI label, Thorogood and also his band headed into the studio in Jamaica Plains, close to Boston, in April 1982, whereby they laid under Bad to The Bone through the aid of the Stones’ then-keyboard player, the so late Ian Stewart. 

“We were kinda flying without a producer in those days,” Thorogood recalls the the recording process. “We simply went in and also played the songs, and whoever engineered the session took credit for gift the ‘producer’. Yet it was a very loose term.”

To The Bone ended up being the name of the parent album, likewise released in 1982. But Thorogood denies that Bad to The Bone made that an overnight star. 

“It no really record on. What do it record on was standard rock radio. Yet it wasn’t a large hit; ns don’t think the charted in ~ all. EMI was an extremely disappointed. The first two months of sales were, like, 275,000 – i beg your pardon I believed was great, due to the fact that I’d simply come native Rounder Records. The vice-president of EMI, his whole thing v music was, if it’s not triple platinum and also you’re no on the sheathe of Rolling Stone, that a flop.”

Over time, however, the song’s rebel schtick and also irresistible hook offered Thorogood the anthem he had dreamt the at the Stones gig. 

“I get a many blues bands that I used to pat with two decades ago, and they play much better than me and they sing far better than me, and also they say: ‘George, we don’t recognize it. You were opening for us in the 70s, and also now we’re opening for you.’ and I go: ‘I’ll give you three factors why: One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, relocate It on Over, and also Bad come The Bone.”

George Thorogood and The Destroyers" Live in Boston, 1982: The complete Concert is exit on December 4. Pre-orders are accessible now.