American Dog guitarist Steve Theado bounces back from highway hell


By Steve Newton

The rock ’n’ roll life has its share of bumps along the road, like the rough ride that American Dog guitarist Steve Theado took in January of last year. He was driving home from a gig in his home state of Ohio late one night when he hit a pothole and got a flat, then was smucked by a hit-and-run driver while changing the tire.

“I never even saw it comin’,” says Theado from his home in Columbus, “and honestly, I didn’t think I was run over at first. I just kinda came to, and the only thing that hurt me was my back. I was disoriented, and didn’t understand why my legs weren’t workin’, but I was able to crawl into my van and call my roommate, who came out and got me. And it wasn’t till we got close to home—luckily I lived near a hospital—that I said, ‘I don’t feel right, let’s get this checked out.’ It was surreal.”

Theado’s injuries included a fractured pelvis, a broken rib, and a concussion. And he could forget about walking for a while.

“I broke both my ankles,” he reports. “and one of them’s got three pins in it. Then they completely rebuilt my right knee, and had to take parts out of my good knee to fix it. So both knees were shot for a while.”

American Dog had already laid down four or five songs for its latest album of redneck southern metal—the aptly titled Red White Black and Blue—and Theado had to record the rest of them in a wheelchair. Nowadays, the former construction worker laughs that he’s “pretty stiff in the mornings”, but judging by the snapshots included in the current CD, he’s bouncing back from the hellish highway incident. There’s photos of the party-hearty rocker grimacing and hoisting beers with everyone from Nazareth vocalist Dan McCafferty to Vancouver rocker-turned-music impresario Tommy Floyd (American Dog’s manager) to former Molly Hatchet axeman Dave Hlubek.

Although he still walks with a limp, that hasn’t stopped the feisty guitarist from grabbing his beat-up ’62 Gibson Melody Maker and hitting the road with his bandmates, bassist-vocalist Michael Hannon (ex–Salty Dog and Dangerous Toys) and drummer Keith Pickens. American Dog takes part in this year’s NewMusicWest with gigs at Studebakers on Friday (May 23) and at the Railway Club on Sunday (May 25) as part of the second annual Band Roast and Chili Bowl hosted by Floyd’s Outlaw Entertainment.

“Some days are worse than others,” notes Theado of the pain he still endures. “But everybody told me I’d able to tell when the weather changes, and I’ll be damned if they weren’t right. I can’t really pinpoint it, but when a big weather change comes through, I just feel bad.”

Hmmm… Judging by the rowdiness depicted in those CD photos, Theado still appears fully capable of having a rockin’ good time. So does an accident like that cause a beer-guzzling guy like him to party more, or less?

“I think it goes to the extremes in both directions,” he replies with a chuckle.

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