Friday evening, June 28th at the Sam Ash music store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, a small group of press and onlookers were in attendance for a special introduction. George Thorogood, along with his Delaware Destroyers, first hit the world scene in 1977 upon the release of their self-titled debut record. In those 42 years, Thorogood and company have made a career of playing mostly standards, written by blues and early rock legends. Incorporating the classic sound of the likes of Chuck berry, Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker, with a ramped up edge, has solidified Thorogood’s legacy as a rock icon. His sound is also unmistakable, and part of that sound was the Gibson ES-125.
Thorogood shares with the room, “There was this one guitar for sale, I picked up this 125 and it was perfect for my hand and the sound what I wanted to do, because I was originally an acoustic guitar player. However, they stopped making that guitar in 1970, and they started in 1957, and I bought every one of them I could and kept playing and playing them.” He continues, “As you may or may not know, Thorogood has a little bit of a heavy attack. And those guitars were very fragile, and I played ’em, beat ’em, not deliberately, it’s just my style of play. As time went on they said we can’t get any more of these guitars.” At a crossroad as to how to proceed with his career, he shares how he couldn’t play any of the other iconic guitars, Gibson’s Les Paul or Fender’s Stratocaster. His techs told him they were spending too much money maintaining his old guitars.
Enter Epiphone Guitars, who approached his camp about endorsing him. Thorogood explains, “Yeah, I’ve tried their guitars. They said, ‘no, how about if we redesign a guitar close to the 125.’ They designed it as close as they could to the original guitar. I started playing them and now I can’t put them down.” That is how the Epiphone ES125 TDC “White Fang” was born. The event moderator asked him if when he takes the stage every night, if he still gets that same sense of excitement or nervousness whatever the rush is. Thorogood responds in a very matter of fact and direct way, “Ladies and gentleman, when the rush, when the nervousness, when the excitement goes away, then Thorogood’s gonna go away. Got that?”
Thorogood then picks up one of the signature models, this one emblazoned with a black cobra at the base. He noodles about for 30 seconds, then begins to strum out the riff of what is probably his most recognizable song. He sings the first verse, and stops and points to those in attendance, and without missing a beat, the room simultaneously spits out, “Bad to the bone.” He then plays a very abbreviated version of Move It on Over, cuts it off before the start of the second verse, and asks, “You want to hear more?” The room responds with an enthusiastic, “YES!” Thorogood, says, “Then you gotta buy in ticket in August.” He humbly thanks the audience and adjourns to the media room.
Upstairs in the media room, “Lonesome George” spends time signing and taking pictures with the lucky few in attendance. He graciously accommodates each and every person who wants to meet him. One young lady asks him to sign her guitar, which he generously obliges. And as an added treat, he plays a few verses of Who Do You Love, announces that for that tune there was “No charge!”