Who on this planet does not know that opening riff followed by the words in the song ‘Bad To The Bone’? Chances are – aliens circling overhead in their spacecraft hear it every time George Thorogood and his Destroyers play it live.
It has been a long and storied career for Thorogood – starting as a hard working solo act making a name for himself on the club scene. John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones and Howlin’ Wolf – just a few of the men who influenced George to pick up a guitar and start playing.
15 million albums sales and more than 8,000 live shows later – George has released his first solo record paying respect to all the Blues guys that influenced hm.
Please listen below to my chat with Lonesome George about the new album and his upcoming show with The Destroyers Aug.23rd at
” Carl was in a car accident and I was supposed to replace him for a month. After four months – the guys and I spoke and they asked if we were going to keep going with this. Unfortunately – his recovery took longer and here I am – seven years later and still here.”
At the time Sharp was being ‘auditioned’ for The Guess Who, he had several projects going on. Sass and him had been playing together for quite a while and he was the co-coordinator for Canadian Idol – the sister show to American Idol and his wife’s platform as a judge …
” The first year they put on Canadian Idol, it was a huge failure.” Says Sharp.”They did three weeks worth of shows and everything got cancelled. They wanted to put something in place where people with experience were running things. They asked me to oversee the whole production of it and be the musical direction. They got a new agent and a new manager. Between the three of us – we put together this huge extravaganza. The first year we did it, we sold out the whole year.”
Derek backed out in the final year because he committed to The Guess Who. A Canadian band who are globally loved but even Derek did not know all the words.
” I knew them kinda … because I am not that old.” Laughs Derek. ” I had to learn all the songs in five days. I was more into Zeppelin and those kind of bands. Of course I knew the songs but not all the lyrics because all those songs are wordy and some of them do not even make sense … ( he laughs ) I put my iPod on and went running to get to know the words …”
It was just hours before his first appearance with the band ( in Houston), Sharp was on the bus and his mind went blank. He could not remember anything and sheer panic took over him. Thankfully – once on stage, just before the first verse, the words came back and the concert ( and Sharp’s new career) took off …
” My favorite songs to sing have changed over the years.” Admits Sharp. ” Now we have a few new ones that we throw in. We sing ‘Lucille’ to have some fun and fool around with. As far as my favorite Guess Who songs; I would have to say ‘These Eyes’ and ‘Busrider’. ‘These Eyes’ is a hard song to sing. It is really high and we have to knock it down a few keys. With our band – of course, people want it as close to the original as possible. In other words – I can’t smoke too many cigarettes before the show.”
Derek has not taken any flack from older Guess Who fans. He is asked what happened to Bachman or Cummings occasionally and the fans who attend the shows are just happy to hear the classic Guess Who songs. Sharp does notice a funny trend …
” We will play one of our new songs or a cover of another band’s song and a fan in the first two rows will shout out “Ya man – That’s a great Guess Who song ….!” He laughs. ” It’s all good. As long as they (the fans) are having fun!”
Sharp’s career has been a journey.
Derek played with Gary Brice ( Bryan Adams’ band ) and Charlie Cooley in the late eighties and early nineties. Theirs was a cover band and all three of them parlayed their experience into higher profile bands. Charlie and Gary with Amanda Marshall ( and Adams ) and Sharp morphed into Red Rider. He also saw stints with Alannah Myles, Jeff Healey and Deep Purple’s Glenn Hughes among others. Then – Derek met Sass. His life has not been the same since. Musically and romantically …
“We met in Canada and went to the States ( L.A.)” Says Derek. ” We moved back to Canada when we had our daughter. From the time we met , we just hit it off and have always been buddies. I played with her at first but now I will fill in if one of the guys she is working with can’t make it or something. I have been doing it for so long – it just makes sense. Sass and I play together all the time. We do acoustic sets at local places and we have a blast. Sass is doing her S.U.N. stuff and I am with The Guess Who, so our schedules conflict.”
Sharp’s current band consists of two original members of The Guess Who. Garry Peterson on drums ( Vocals) and Jim Kale ( bass and vocals). The pair have been there, done that yet according to Sharp; you would never know it …
” It’s amazing!” Says Derek.” These guys are kids when they get on stage. They have so much fun and energy! Offstage it’s a little different … ” He laughs. “They are a little slower then they used to be …. Heck – they are seventy years old! Hey! Look at Jagger. Look at the shape he is in! Sign me up …! I’m in! I don’t want to be a couch potato when I am older. I want to be like that guy!?”
He goes on …
“I think music is an elixir. No matter all the shit you go through, getting stuck in small towns – airport screw-ups, once you get on stage it is worth it. I think that’s the reason we all get into this. To make people smile – which makes us smile at the same time …! How many jobs are there where people come and see you and get excited?”
The Guess Who have just recently finished recording four new tracks for an upcoming album which should be released some time next year. Sharp has no immediate plans to go anywhere else. He is enjoying his life on the road and at home. He does admit – the older he gets , the more things are changing …
“We always do these long meet and greets after the show.” Says Sharp. “Being the singer,I used to get all the ‘hot’ young girls coming up to me after shows …”
Explains the forty-eight year old.
“Now I get older ladies wanting kisses and their picture with me! It’s great! It is really good to see people having fun. That’s what this is all about. It makes me sad when I see all these ‘artists’ backed by big corporations with no talent getting all the airplay and the money. The worse thing is – they are not having fun! I really do not get it at all …?
Sharp and Sass’ daughter is planning to go into musical theater once her High School education is complete. Derek has no plans to alter her mind in either direction. Whatever she wants to do is okay with him as long as she is happy and safe.
” My Father gave me the talking to about having something to fall back on …”Admits Sharp. ” That old speech. My ( late ) Mom was very supportive. No matter where I played, she would show up and sit in the front row with her drink and cheer me on. She would embarrass me but it was fantastic! Now my Father comes out when he can and has a great time.”
Derek as a kid growing up in Fort William had about ten albums. Records which helped him make the decision ( at the age of six), to be a music and / or singing star …
“One was a polka record, one was a Big Band record – Glen Miller I think, one was a Beatles’ album …”
He goes on …
“Whatever was available – I liked everything. Whatever was on the radio. My family would go on a long road trip and we would have these sing-a-longs in the car. I love seventies classic rock stuff. That’s my favorite …”
Derek Sharp is looking forward to the new Guess Who album and is currently writing songs with Sass Jordan for films. Sharp spends his spare time biking, running, gardening and playing music with Sass when they have the opportunity.
A Montreal group which did the nightclub circuit in the late seventies – early eighties? Clubs such as the Maples, the Moustache and the Pioneer evolving into the band members’ second homes.
In that band was a female bass player who went on to become a Juno award winner and a multi- platinum selling artist. Her name is Sass Jordan and unlike many of her contemporaries, Jordan is still rockin’ at the top of her game …
The current forty- nine year old former resident of Westmount ,Qc and native of England – is embarking on a new journey with a bunch of guys. Men who aren’t exactly the type of musicians normally associated with Jordan. Then again, nothing has been ordinary in this raspy, sultry – voiced singer’s life.
” I love life …!” Says Sass from her home in Hamilton, Ont., Canada. A place she has called home since 1997. A comfortable place where she lives with her fifteen year old daughter and her husband of sixteen years – Derek Sharp. Sharp is one of the most respected Canadian musicians on the circuit, having played with Alannah Myles, Pat Travers, Red Rider and the late Jeff Healey.
“It’s amazing how fast time goes …?!” Jordan asks almost in awe. ” When I was a judge on Canadian Idol, my daughter was five. Now, when the staff I worked with back then see her – they can’t believe it! I mean – hello? It’s 2012 …!”
Jordan was on that show for six years beginning in 2003. It was the second time she had been asked to judge a singing contest and if the money was not right – there was no way she would have done it.
“I received a call from my agent one year prior to the start of Idol. It was a similar show and they wanted to pay me something like $9,000.00 for months and months of work. The last thing I was interested in was judging a singing contest and to not really make money doing it was absurd.”
Jordan says the music business is lucrative but not as lucrative as one thinks. With this in mind – Sass practically jumped out of her skin when the people from Idol came calling.
“Even though it was not my thing, I could not turn down the amount of money they offered me. It was a daunting task to sit there and watch so many singers sing a capella every day.. If not for the cast and crew – I would have gone insane”.
Jordan says the entire show is about making a television show and not necessarily about the singers. She does not condemn it and believes it is a great idea to bring people together.
” The whole thing was like ‘summer camp goes to the circus’ for my fellow judges, the crew and I. What is amazing about it is it galvanizes people. Young and old, black or white – everyone suddenly comes together to support a particular artist. It’s a social experiment which succeeds brilliantly.”
Ironically for Jordan, an element of the show brought her back to her younger days on Burton Ave. in Westmount and an encounter at that time with a ‘brilliant’ young man.
” Some friends and I were at a club and we met this eighteen year old kid from England. He was down on his luck and he had no place to stay.” Sass says. “So we say – you can crash on the couch in my basement. Everytime he came into town he stayed in my basement.” Laughs Jordan.
That eighteen year old kid turned out to be Simon Fuller – the producer of Canadian Idol and the originator of the ‘Idol’ franchises including the extremely popular American Idol. Fuller also manages the Spice Girls, David and Victoria Beckham, Steven Tyler and Carrie Underwood to name a few. His company manages the Elvis Presley estate, Muhammad Ali’s business affairs and many other ventures including a partnership with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
Sass received the job as a judge on Canadian Idol without either Fuller’s knowledge or Sass’. The pair were equally and pleasantly surprised to discover one another.
“He is a very successful man and the funny thing is – even when he had nowhere to sleep, he would always tell us that one day he is going to be a prominent producer or manager. His journey is an amazing one!”
Sass herself knows something about incredible journeys having been on one since the age of eighteen. A ‘solo’ trip which started with the album ‘ Tell Someone’ in 1988.
“It was my only release on vinyl and casette” Laughs Jordan. ” It was all CDs after that!”
A Juno award came next in 1989 for most promising female vocalist and a move to the U.S. followed in 1990. The daughter of an English actress and French professor then recorded Racine in 1992. That album sold 450,000 copies – 50,000 short of gold record status and it is something Sass does not think would have happened if she had not packed up and headed to the States.
” As a smart Canadian, moving South of the Border was the only choice if you wanted success. Especially in 1990. If you wanted a career it was the only thing to do.” She continues. ” We ( musicians) used to have a joke back then. We would say Canadian audiences would clap ‘north of the applause line’. It’s not like that anymore. Canadian audiences are much more enthusiastic than they once were. Not as polite …” Adds Sass with a laugh.
Sucess started to come in bunches for the young woman who once sang back- up for the popular Quebec group ‘The Box.’ In 1992, the blonde – haired beauty recorded a duet with Joe Cocker for the film The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The song – ‘Trust in Me’, has sold more than 27million copies world wide.
Jordan has also played with or opened for the likes of Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.
So far, it has been a long journey since Sass played with her first band in High School. A group named Sweet Thunder. A trip which is taking a new direction with the band S.U.N ( Something Unto Nothing).
This new band’s destination is anyone’s guess. Especially since the guitarist in the band is better known as the drummer for the band Whitesnake and Foreigner.