Bad to the Bone (4:47)

Cover of Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock

From Greatest Hits: 30 Years of Rock and 11 other releases

“Bad to the Bone” is a song by George Thorogood and the Destroyers released in 1982 on the album of the same name. While it was not a major hit on initial release, its memorable video made recurrent appearances on the nascent MTV, which was created only a year before and just taking off. Widespread licensing for films, television, and commercials has since made “Bad to the Bone” one of the best-recognized songs of the 80s.

Structure and influences

The song’s roots can be traced back to rock and roll legend Bo Diddley’s song “I’m a Man”, which uses the same guitar riff and vocal rhythm, and has a similar overall structure, as well as Muddy Waters’s “She Moves Me” and “Mannish Boy”. The song also holds a very similar melody to AC/DC’s hit “Whole Lotta Rosie”, released on their 1977 album Let There Be Rock, although the song of AC/DC has more figures in the riff, it’s moved and has a completely different bridge and chorus, while the vocal structure is no longer comparable as in the preceding songs.

Music video

The video intercuts a live performance by Thorogood and his band with his playing a lengthy game of pool with Bo Diddley himself (who therefore, presumably, did not mind Thorogood’s reworking of his song). Pool legend Willie Mosconi is summoned from another room by a spectator, and he wagers a large sum of money on Diddley. As Thorogood appears to be winning, a group of children outside celebrate while Diddley gets a dirty look from Mosconi.

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