George Thorogood Recalls His Street Musician Days
George Thorogood recalled the time he found himself forced to scrap together a living as a street musician, admitting he could have made it easier to find success.
After an aborted attempt to join John Lee Hooker’s band in the early ‘70s, Thorogood was struggling to make ends meet, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“I played in a couple of bands at high school, like everybody else – played in a battle of the bands, lost, like everybody else,” Thorogood said. “I went to California, because I was hoping maybe I could get a chance to be the guitar person in John Lee Hooker’s band. I wanted to play with him because I could play his stuff pretty good. And I went and met him, but he had a guitarist at the time.”
Thorogood continued, “But I had to eat! What I should have done is gone along to [legendary promoter] Bill Graham’s house, knocked on the door, said, ‘Here I am – let me open for the Allman Brothers.’ He probably would have done it; that’s the kind of man he was. [But] that didn’t dawn on me. So, I’m standing on a street corner, I got nothing to eat, I gotta do something.”
That’s when he took to performing for passers-by. “I just got a few pennies, got a few quarters … went and bought a hot dog or something, and that’s what I did. [I thought,] ‘Maybe somebody will walk by. Maybe Bill Graham will walk by and say, ‘Hey, man, you’re wasting you time here!’”
Of course, it eventually paid off – along with his band the Destroyers, Thorogood has sold more than 15 million albums around the world.
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Watch George Thorogood and the Destroyers Perform ‘Bad to the Bone’