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ZZ Top

the only rock band formed in the 60's that still has all of its original members

Members

Bassist Dusty Hill was born in Dallas on May 19, 1949. He is currently divorced and has a college-age daughter.

Guitarist Billy F. Gibbons was born into a well-to-do Houston family on September 16, 1949. He learned about rhythym and blues from the family maid.

Drummer Frank Beard ws born in Dallas on June 11, 1949. He is married and has twin boys and a daughter.

ZZ Top

History

In the mid-1960's, Billy Gibbons teamed up with bassist Don Summers, drummer Dan Mitchell and organist Tom Moore to form Moving Sidewalks. After Summers and Moore were drafted into the Army, Gibbons and Mitchell brought in bassist Lanier Grieg, who later left and was replaced by Billy Ethridge. The revamped band enjoyed success in the Houston area and even opened for The Doors during their 1967 Texas tour and later for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. But, as was common among local bands of the day, group members were gradually drawn away by other obligations and Moving Sidewalks broke up.

Meanwhile, in Dallas, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard and Dusty's brother Rocky had formed a band called American Blues. Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard met each other in 1970, and ZZ Top was born. Although early accounts said that the trio got its name from a package of cigarette rolling papers, Gibbons said in his autobiography Bill F Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead that it actually came to him after looking at two old posters of blues guitar legend B.B. King and Z.Z. Hill hanging in his apartment. He was going to call the new band "ZZ King" but realized that that was too close to "B.B. King" so he chose "ZZ Top" since B.B.'s poster was "on the top." The trio played its first gig at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Beaumont, Texas, on February 10, 1970.

ZZ Top enjoyed immediate success in Texas and, thanks to their manager Bill Ham, were signed to London Records in 1971. ZZ Top's First Album was released that same year, and one single from the album, (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree," made it to #50 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. First Album was followed by Rio Grande Mud (1972), which went to #104 on the Billboard 200 Chart. The band achieved national stardom with Tres Hombres (1973), which charted at #8; the single "La Grange" made it to #41 on the Hot 100 Chart and is still a ZZ Top standard play. On September 1, 1974, ZZ Top shared billing with Bill Graham, Santana, Joe Cocker and Bad Company at the "Rompin' and Stompin' Barndance and Barbecue" in Austin. Fandango, featuring the #20 hit "Tush" was released in 1975, and Tejas, which made it to #17 on the album chart, was released in 1977.

By the time Tejas was released ZZ Top had been touring almost continuously for seven years and the band decided to take a much-needed break. The "Little Band From Texas" finally went back to work in 1979, by which time Gibbons and Hill had grown their signature beards. They also left London Records and signed with Warner Bros. that year. Their first album for Warner Bros. was Deguello (1979), featuring "I Thank You" and "Cheap Sunglasses." Although the album achieved platinum sales, it only made it to #24 on the charts. El Loco (1981) featured the singles "Tube Snake Boobie," "Pearl Necklace," and "Leila." The album Eliminator (1983) marked a major change for ZZ Top because it was the first to incorporate synthesizers and drum machines. That change proved popular among the emerging music video audience, as "Gimme All Your Lovin,'" "Legs" and "Sharp-Dressed Man" were all heavily played on MTV. That popularity carried over to Afterburner (1985), which became the band's highest-charting album, with all singles making the Top 40 chart. Their last album with Warner Bros was Recycler (1990), which featured "My Head's In Mississippi," "Give It Up" and "Burger Man."

Eliminator

In 1990, ZZ Top appeared as the acoustic band in the wild-west dance scene in Back to the Future Part III; they also contributed "Doubleback" to the soundtrack. That same year they also appeared in the TV movie Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme as the Three Men in a Tub. The band signed with RCA Records in 1994, with whom they have since released Antenna (1994), Rhythmeen (1996), XXX (1999) and Mescalero (2003).

ZZ Top is still touring today, and is the only rock band formed in the 60's that still has all of its original members. To date they have had 8 Top-40 Hits and have won 3 MTV Music Video Awards. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

ZZ Top's official website is http://www.zztop.com.

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The Robinson Library >> Music >> Biography: Musical Groups

This page was last updated on 06/04/2017.