ZZ Top

Billy GibbonsGuitar, vocals
Dusty HillBass, vocals
Frank BeardDrums

ZZ Top Artistfacts

  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Courtney - Miami, FL
  • 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.

Comments: 24

  • Wayne O from Corpus Christi, Tx.When they were recording their first album, they were struggling with finding the sound of the band that Bill Ham wanted. He also did not want the studio owner to tamper with Billy Gibbon's guitar sound. The studio owner asked him to go get some barbecue ribs at a place way down the road. While he was gone, the owner came up with the sound that we all know to this day. When Ham returned, they played it for him, and he was thrilled. He said that it was, in fact, exactly the sound he was looking for. Billy has since said that Ham was a "genius".
  • Bobby Daniel from United StatesKaren - When I was about 9 yrs. old on vacation in Galveston there was a band that positively played La Grange - tiki grass type beach bar. Not sure if it was them but could have been as it was in 1973. My mom slapped me to get off the picnic table, they stopped playing, then told her it was cool for me to dance on it, and then they finished the song. Whoever it was - they nailed the song. Can still hear the rim taps!
  • Jimmy from Baker City, OrI am a close friend of John Bolin. John builds a bunch of the cool guitars and basses that both Billy and Dusty use.Amen and Have Mery John Bolin and House Of JB Guitars
  • Jimmy from Baker City, OrTo Kathy from Houston how posted acomment about "childhood friends" of Billy. I am a close friend of Dub Darneille.He now lives in Joseph,Oregon,has limited computer access and wants to get in touch with you.Jimmy,Baker City.Or
  • Dennis from North Arlington, NjLaGrange was a huge summer hit on 4th Ave. in Belmar, NJ during 1976.
  • Vince from Long Island, NyBilly Gibbons also uses a quarter as a pick to get a raspy sound.
  • Ben from Liberal, CaTo all Billy Gibbons fans, please check out www.fullmoontheseries.com. Billy (Angus Mcgee), plays a wonderful creepy character, that any Billy Gibbons fan would want to see... you won't be disappointed.
  • Mindy from Orange County , CaI saw them in 1976 at Anaheim Stadium they played with Blue Oyster Cult and Johnny Winters IT WAS AWESOME- the best band I've ever seen live.. I got back stage passes from a roady who I was taking care of in the hospital

    His name was Jimmy Austin .I'm trying to find him.. It's been 30 years since that tour Jimmy worked for Hamm Productions and I moved we lost touch do any of you know him?

  • Matt from Cherry Hill, NjBig Mike, Merrillville i agree ZZ Top is a great band Eliminator, Fandango!, and Afterburner are all great inspirations to a lot of music. But without a doubt Lynyrd Skynyrd beats the poop out of them. Not only is Skynyrd one of the greatest southern rock bands of all time, but is easily in the top 20 of greatest bands of all time.
  • Kathy from Houston, TxTo "Childhood friend"...I also lived down the street from the Gibbons'....are you by any chance one of the Dicksons or Darnielles? What was Bill's little siste's name...we've been trying to remember...I think it was Pam or something...
  • Barry from Gagetown Nb CanadaPS: Of course it's in MP 3 mode now !!!

  • Barry from Gagetown Nb Canada"Tres Hombres" was the first L.P. I bought in 1974...still play and love it today ! I was honored to see ZZ Top LIVE in Maple Leaf Gardens Toronto Apr 3 1980 ... Awesome ! how how how !!
    * ߪ??¥ *
  • Ben from Nyc, MsLa Grange is great
  • Mellissa from Wasaga Beach, CanadaYeah, and a memorable furry guitar :-)
  • Michelle from Salem, OrBilly Gibbons lent his raspy vocals in a song by Queens of the Stone Age, "Burn the Witch".
  • Big Mike from Merrillville, InBest damn rock band from America. Period. Enough said.
  • Hadley from Austin, TxBilly and Dusty grew their beards out (without knowing the other was doing likewise) during a sabbatical hiatus the band took in the mid 70's.

    Billy (and probably Frank and Dusty too) mentored Stevie Ray Vaughan.

    After reading interviews of Billy Gibbons in guitar magazines, it turns out he uses several things in addition to standard guitar picks, including mexican peso coins. He also has lots of different ways he pinches strings instead of strumming them.

    Billy Gibbons is also known as The Reverend Willie G.

    They sometimes actually use "moving sidewalks" on stage during concerts. Picture the airport kind without handrails.

    Much like Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan (RIP), ZZ Top seem a lot more humble than most successful musicians.
  • Daniel from Toronto, CanadaI heard that their name comes from their two favourite brands of rolling papers... ZZ - Zig Zag. Top - Top (duh). I could be wrong but.. it makes sense.
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaBilly Gibbons is one of the most underated guitar players ever. If you like "Texas blues, and you wanna hear some truly amazing guitar playing get "One foot in the blues." The best "ZZTop" album I ever heard, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have a few things with you this would be one of the musical items I would have.
  • Roman from Denver, CoBilly Gibbons has red guitar picks with the words
    "HAVE MERCY' printed on them. Roman moore-Denver
  • Karen from Longview, TxDid anybody catch these guys at the Grass Shack in Galveston back in the late 60's or early 70's? I've always heard they used to play there as the Moving Sidewalks with a band called The Countdown Five.
  • David from Auburn, AlTwo of these guys were in a band named "American Blues." They played in Fort Worth at a club called the Bookstore around 1965-66. They used Kustom Amps (blue glitter). They may have bleached their hair. They were a tight, great group then too.
  • A Childhood Friend from Houston, TxHmmm (re: high school comment). Billy graduated from Lee in 1968 and ZZ Top wasn't formed until 1970. We were neighbors from the age of 3, and I'm pretty sure that he didn't go back to Lee to paint cars after ZZ Top started rockin'.
  • Brian from Austin, TxWhile attending Robert E. Lee H.S. in Houston, Tx Billy Gibbons would paint the infamous "ZZ" symbol on people's cars who wanted it.
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