Bryan Adams and George Thorogood have similar memories of their first encounter.
They met during the mid-'80s, when both musicians -- who are touring together this summer -- were in Memphis. Adams was performing a concert; Thorogood was recording. And legendary Booker T. & the MG's bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and his band, the Coolers, were playing in the rooftop lounge at the Peabody Hotel.
"It was a late-night drinking session which I sort of stepped into," recalls Adams, 47, although Thorogood, 56, counters that "there was definitely alcohol consumption, but we weren't really drunk..."
Rather, Thorogood says, his producer told him that "there's a guy here who'd like to meet you. He's a rock 'n' roll star.' And I said, 'Great, man; I always wanted to meet a rock 'n' roll star!' I came to the show, and he did a very good show and we got to talking, and then we all wound up at the Peabody."
The evening evolved into a jam session, during which Adams further impressed Thorogood.
"Bryan got up and sang for about an hour after his show," he says. "I was blown away, man. He did Little Richard songs. He did Wilson Pickett and a whole bunch of stuff, just great rock singing. I was just amazed at the versatility this man had with his voice."
Adams, meanwhile, recalls one part of that evening in particular. "Somebody said, 'O.K., 'Midnight Hour,' and Duck says, 'OK, we're doing the original key,' and George says, 'I'm only playing it in this key.' And Duck says, 'No, man, I'm playing it in [i]this[/i] key,' and George says, 'I don't care what key you're playing it in, I'm playing in [i]this[/i] key! [i]You[/i] play it in that key.
"So they did. They played the song in two different keys...and it worked!"
Adams, who tours about 10 days each month, isn't expecting anything that dramatic to take place on the two short runs of dates with Thorogood this month and in October; they aren't even expecting to play together, even. But both are looking forward to sharing a stage and having a crack at each other's fans.
"I kind of like that as a performer, to go out there and see what I can do with this audience," Thorogood says. "I've been put in some pretty strange situations, but our repertoire has allowed us to hit a pretty broad span of audiences -- Hank Williams, Jr., ZZ Top, Journey, the (Rolling) Stones, J. Geils, the Allman Brothers. I've had to follow some people, too, like Little Richard and Stevie Wonder. How do you like that?
"But the Bryan Adams thing should be a gas. And if it isn't, hey, it's no big deal. It's only rock 'n' roll, and I'm being well-paid for it."
Adams will lean on his established repertoire, including a string of hits that includes "Run to You," "Heaven," "Summer of '69" and chart-topping soundtrack songs such as "(Everything I Do) I Do it For You" (from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"), "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" ("Don Juan DeMarco) and "All For Love," a collaboration with Sting and Rod Stewart for "The Three Musketeers."
Adams, who resides in London and also maintains an active photographic career and operates a charitable foundation there, recently wrote some songs for an upcoming animated film called "Space Chimps." And he's planning to release a new album this fall which, like his 2004 set "Room Service," was recorded mostly on the road, in Europe and Scandinavia.
"It's quite a personal record, and it's global at the same time," Adams says. "You travel around and you think about the things you do when you're traveling, it's going to wear off on what you write about."
Thorogood has his own plans for new music, too. He'd like to do acoustic and country albums in the future, but, he says, "I'm still not ready to hang up my rock 'n' roll shoes." So his next target is something similar to "Move It On Over," his gold 1978 album of blues and early rock covers.
But he's also preparing to blast into the past with the Aug. 14 release of a 25th anniversary edition of "Bad to the Bone," the 1982 album that gave him his signature song. The original 10 songs have been bolstered by the instrumental B-side "The Philly Thing," as well as re-recordings of six of the album's songs, including the title track, by Thorogood and his band, the Destroyers.
Why mess with a classic? " 'Cause they asked me to," Thorogood says with a laugh. "I'm OK with all of it, baby. I mean, what's it gonna hurt, really? Everything's cool."
Bryan Adams and George Thorogood & the Destroyers perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday (August 8th) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $45 pavilion, $25 lawn. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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