They are the longest-running American rock band with no member changes.
The band took some time off from 1977-1979, which is when Gibbons and Hill started growing out their beards. Frank Beard is the only member who does not have a beard.
Jimi Hendrix called Gibbons "One of America's best young guitarists" on The Tonight Show, a quote that made many take note of his talents. With his band Moving Sidewalks, Gibbons opened some shows for Hendrix in 1968.
They were the first and last band to play McNichols Arena in Denver. It opened in 1975 and closed in 1999.
All three members were born in 1949; they were each 19 when the band started.
Legend has it that the "ZZ" in their name comes from a design on barn doors and "Top" comes from Tops rolling papers, but in Billy Gibbons' book Rock 'n Roll Gearhead
, he states that while looking at the concert posters that were adorning the wall and trying to come up with a new name for the band, he noticed a poster for ZZ Hill. He liked the ZZ part and thought of using ZZ King, like BB King, but that was too close. However, King was the best, or "tops," so ZZ Top is was.
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They performed for President George W. Bush a few days before he was inaugurated in 2001. While Governor of Texas, Bush proclaimed May 15, 1997 "ZZ Top Day."
Their manager, Bill Ham, was considered their "fourth member." He produced their first album, which he helped bankroll, and got them a distribution deal with a small label called London Records, where they stayed until signing with Warner Bros. in 1979. Ham produced all of their albums through Rhythmeen in 1996; they parted company in 2006.
Asked about the group's songwriting, Gibbons told Songfacts
: "A turn of phrase, a potential title might spring to mind or a riff presents itself. It's about keeping an open mind and, in essence, 'let it happen.' We're never entirely sure of how this process actually works, but sho' 'nuff, it does work."
They opened some shows for Janis Joplin, who was also from Texas.
Their 1976 "Worldwide Texas" tour featured a stage shaped like Texas, as well as a steer, snakes, and cacti.
Hill was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2000. They had to cancel a series of shows so he could get treatment.
The iconic car that appeared in their videos and on the album cover of the same name is known as The Eliminator. It's a 1933 Ford that Billy Gibbons had made into a Hot Rod (he started working on it in 1976), and it proved so popular that he had another one built just like it to go on tour. Gibbons was into Hot Rods and for many kids watching MTV, The Eliminator was their first look at one in action.
ZZ Top played their first ever concert on February 10, 1970 at a Knights of Columbus Hall on the old US 90 outside of Houston. The gig was booked by Beaumont radio personality Al Caldwell of KLVI, who would later also broadcast the band's first recordings. When the curtains opened there was just one person in the audience. Billy Gibbons recalled to Q magazine: "We shrugged and pressed onwards. We took a break halfway through, went out and bought him a Coke."
Before forming ZZ Top, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill were both members of a fake version of the British rock act The Zombies. The Texan group of imposters masqueraded as the Zombies and toured throughout the US to sold out shows a year after the real band split in the UK.
In a 1984 Saturday Night Live Democratic candidate poll, they received 131,384 votes.
In 1991 a Texas man kidnapped and killed the wife of their manager, Bill Ham. The man was caught and given the death penalty.
They appeared in the 1990 movie Back To The Future III as a square dance band.