This song is a tribute to the "Border Blaster" radio stations in Mexico, specifically the two that were run by the famous disc jockey Wolfman Jack, XERF in Via Acuna, (near Del Rio, Texas), and XERB, (in Rosarito Beach near Tijuana). Mexican radio stations did not have to adhere to the power limits of US stations, which gave them the ability to pump their signal well into the the States.
Suggestion credit: Ken - Boise, ID
Billy Gibbons explained in a 1985 interview with Spin magazine: "All Mexican stations' call letters begin with X. The X stations used to be heard everywhere because of their enormous power. The Mexican government granted licenses with no wattage ceiling. The US, back in the '20s, established 50,000 watts as the maximum. WLS in Chicago is 50,000 watts, and you can hear it like a police call in Houston. I'm sure 500,000 watts you can pick up here in Canada. You can probably pick up XERF. It was just outrageous. You could pick it up everywhere and we'd go. And it would bury everything else. KDRC in Houston was on a close frequency, and they would get stomped on. They had to move. XERF is 1570 on the dial. I think that remains the most powerful station."
Dusty Hill added: "They'll sell segments to anybody. There are a lot of preachers on there. I heard them one time selling autographed prayer cloths. They were to put on your radio when you're listening to these programs. But this one was autographed by Jesus himself. Then you'd hear a 15-minute country western show. Then there'd be a blues show. You could just buy your slot and do whatever. They didn't have a whole lot of restrictions."
Asked if ZZ Top was ever played "on the X," Gibbons said: "We did, in fact. They do not have a pop music playlist, but the song was brought to attention of the station owner, who, it turns out, is an attorney in Del Rio who considers the station his favorite toy. He decided to have a 15-minute pop music segment, and we did get played on XERF and then on XERB in Rosarita. They also have XROC in Juarez. So it went full circle. We heard 'I Heard It in the X' on the X."
Members of ZZ Top share the same influences, which helped forge their sound. The first line of this song is a nod to those influences, which they heard on the border blaster stations:
Do you remember back in 1966? Country Jesus, hillbilly blues that's where I learned my licks
Diamonddave from West Texas, Txto dean in las vegas, nevada. you were indeed listening to "x rock 80", mexican radio station, but it wasn't broadcasting from del rio, texas, it was coming all the way from el paso, texas. here is more information for those interested:
in the early 1970's, before the popularity of FM radio, this station played a lot of early ZZ Top music, and made them a favorite band throughout the southwest way before they went "nationwide".
Dave from Pleasanton, CaBack in early 60's I lived in Chula Vista, Ca., a suburb south of San Diego. My best friend at the time was this "musical prodigy" sort of kid who had a successful band. He told me one day "Hey come over tonight at 9pm; you've GOT to hear this radio station I found. That night I heard for the first time "Wolfman Jack" on XERB. WOW! It was a revelation; music I NEVER heard before: Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, etc. NOBODY played that kind of music on the radio, as far as I knew.
Dusty and Billy cut their chops on the blues that "The Wolfman" was broadcasting at that time. Definitely a tribute to XERF/XERB, AND their owner/radio show host, Wolfman Jack, God Bless Him!
Dean from Las Vegas, NvBACK IN the 70's we use to listen to X-rock "80" It was a AM station brodcasting from Del Rio Texas, it's transmitter was across the Rio-Grand river in Mexico ,where their was no regulations for brodcasting with "lot's of watts" It played nothing but the best classic rock, every song was awesome,song after song all night long. This is the radio station that is refered to in ZZ Top's classic song Heard It On The "X"
Bobpape from Austin, TxJeff- I do. I also grew up in San Jose, and I can remember hearing this song on KSJO and KOME and being puzzled that the version played on the radio was not the same as the album. I always thought the radio version was a lot cooler. Anybody know why that is, and where I can get that radio version?
Jeff from San Jose, CaI first heard this song on KSJO in San Jose in '76, but the version they played was twice as long as the released version. They doubled the length of the instrumental bridge and changed the EQ on part of it so that it sounded like it was coming out of a cheap AM transistor radio, THEN they slotted the first half of the song with all the verses between the end of the bridge and the outro and added phase shifting to it. I thought this was very cool but I was disappointed to find out it wasn't released that way. Anybody from San Jose remember this?