CHAMPAIGN — Rock and blues master George Thorogood appreciates a great blues song, but he’s not composing them any more.
“Bob Dylan writes them,” he said. “I rock them.”
Thorogood, with his longtime Destroyers — Jeff Simon (drums, percussion), Bill Blough (bass guitar), Jim Suhler (rhythm guitar) and Buddy Leach (saxophone) — has sold more than 15 million albums and released 16 studio albums, six of them gold and two platinum.
He’s performed more than 8,000 live shows.
Thorogood is set to perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Virginia Theatre. It’s part of the Good To Be Bad Tour — 45 Years Of Rock.
Thorogood still puts out albums, including the solo “Party of One,” which got into the Top 10 on Soundscan’s top current blues albums. It was his fastest-selling album in nearly 20 years.
With the Destroyers, the hits include: “Who Do You Love?,” “I Drink Alone,” “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,” “Move It On Over,” “Get A Haircut” and the signature “Bad To The Bone.”
By the way, the group is donating proceeds from the tour to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients. A close family member was diagnosed with leukemia.
Even though he’s not writing songs at this time, “we’re working on a boxed set for Rounders records,” he said.
Thorogood disputes the blues-only reputation.
“I’m a classic rocker now; we cut (recorded) those blues songs a long time ago,” Thorogood said.
He has a very specific definition of the blues.
“Anything that’s sad is the blues,” Thorogood said.
By that law, he said, even the Beatles apply, with a Thorogood favorite being the Paul McCartney-penned “Yesterday,” which he described as “about the saddest thing around.”
And Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.”
“Why doesn’t everybody stop writing music now except Bob Dylan?” Thorogood asked. He said the song’s long life is not about nostalgia; his daughter loves that song.
“I’m also thinking about more traditional bluesy songs like Little Walter Jacob’s ‘Roller Coaster’ or, obviously, B.B. King and ‘The Thrill Is Gone," he said.
“Hank Williams is all about the blues,” Thorogood said, from “Your Cheatin’ Heart” to “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
His whole life was the blues, the rocker added, with Williams dying at 29 from alcoholism and drug addictions.
Another surprising choice: “The greatest song ever is ‘Over The Rainbow,’” which always chokes him up.
Thorogood’s own music? He wants to make people happy. Even his bluesier numbers are often funny.
“If it gets people up and dancing, it’s rock and roll,” Thorogood said. “I’d rather have a full house than a house of fools.”