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‘How the hell did we do that?’ - Bill Blough recalls epic newly released Boston show

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George Thorogood and The Destroyers have been among rock and roll’s most fervently reliable preservationists for well over 45 years. Known for putting their own stamp on classic blues covers like Rudy Toombs’ (via John Lee Hooker) “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” and Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love,” as well as creating originals inspired by the music of their heroes like “Bad to the Bone,” the band has carved a career out of delivering intense, driving blues rock on record, and especially onstage, where the songs live and breathe.

In the fall of 1982, Thorogood and The Destroyers career was in major ascent following an intense year of touring on their own and with the The Rolling Stones in both the US and UK. The year before, they’d tested their mettle with the punishing and astonishing “50/50 Tour,” where they rocked all 50 states (plus Washington DC) in 50 days.

On November 23, 1982, with their fifth album “Bad to the Bone” scaling the charts after an October appearance on SNL, George Thorogood and The Destroyers played Boston’s Bradford Ballroom, a venue that had recently reopened on Tremont St. and had once hosted legends like Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and James Brown. Today it’s known as the Royale Nightclub. That night, with a mobile recording truck parked outside, The Destroyers unleashed a relentlessly powerful two-and-a-half hour show that has just been released in its entirety for the first time as “Live in Boston, 1982: The Complete Concert” on four LPs, two CDs and via digital.

“How the hell did we do that?” longtime Destroyers bassist Bill Blough responded when I asked him what went through his mind as he recently cracked open his vinyl copy of the show for a listen. “The energy level just blows me away when I listen to it.”

During an interview with The Maine Edge, set to air this weekend on BIG 104 FM, Blough recalled this era of The Destroyers’ career as “a blur” of traveling from city to city to play about 180 shows per year. “We were a young band still trying to cover as much territory as possible,” Blough said.

The Maine Edge: What do you think of when you recall this era of the band’s career?

Bill Blough: This show came shortly after we did about 25 shows with The Rolling Stones, plus we did the Canadian tour, and an extensive American tour that culminated with this show in Boston, so we were pretty wound up.

The Maine Edge: How were you treated by The Rolling Stones?

Bill Blough: We weren’t hanging with them constantly, but they were very generous to us. They were sociable at times and allowed us to watch their shows from the side of the stage. Because it was such a huge production, they had two stages that leapfrogged from city to city. We spent most of the time with (late Rolling Stones cofounder) Ian Stewart, their keyboard player. He enjoyed hanging out with us because we were more like the roots of where he was from. He started sitting in with us and eventually joined us on the “Bad to the Bone” record.

The Maine Edge: Did The Destroyers regularly perform two-and-a-half hour shows at this point or was this an unusually epic show for you guys?

Bill Blough: This reflects what all of our shows were like. We had only started playing “Bad to the Bone” at this point so it hadn’t matured to where it is now. There were a lot of songs that we did back then that we don’t do anymore. Some songs that appeared on this show eventually morphed into songs that we do now. I’ll let the audience deduce which ones they are once they listen.

We pretty much kept the show to this format, but we tweaked it a bit and narrowed it down because we started to realize that two-and-a-half hours of this pounding was a little bit much for the audience (laughs). We realized we could cut the set back a bit and try to make every song strong instead of slowing the pace and building it up again.

The Maine Edge: How often did you record your shows back then? Was this one instigated by your record label?

Bill Blough: It was. We record all of our shows nowadays. Starting around this time, we recorded shows just for our reference on cassette from the mixing board, and we have thousands of those. We’ve gone through various formats and now it’s all on a thumb drive that I dump into the computer every night after the show. I have all of our shows from the last 20 years on digital format and everything before that is on cassette somewhere.

The Maine Edge: How much have you missed that in the past year?

Bill Blough: I think I can speak for everybody when I say were jonesing to get out and play. George is chomping at the bit to go. We miss the crowd, and that’s why we’re still doing this more than 40 years later.

The Maine Edge: Most bands around that long have had far more personnel changes. The Destroyers lineup has been pretty consistent. What do you chalk that up to?

Bill Blough: Our charming personalities? No, I think it’s down to our work ethic. This is what we love, we’re in it to play music and entertain our audience. Other acts that are more Hollywood, so to speak, I guess they pulled in different directions. That and everybody in this band seems to be pretty healthy. We try to take care of ourselves.

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 February 2021 08:24

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