“Our ’65 Chevy low rider convertible, flying the colors of ZZ Top’s El Dorado Bar is solidly a Texas car yet, equally at home on the streets of LA, Fresno, or Bakersfield.” –Billy Gibbons. This pic of ZZ Top has it all, in my opinion. Just checkout that custom-built Texas state Gibson guitar! The band has acquired an enviable car collection over the years, and is out and about in the custom scene. “We attend the Mooneyes Festivals in California and Japan and always make the SoCal Speed Shop summer ‘Open House’ gathering. Always a terrific time. As far as clubs are concerned, we think of ZZ Top as one. We hang out, we shoot the breeze, we get down, we move on to the next town and, of course, it’s all about the arrival. Loud, low, while you Rock and Roll…!” –Billy Gibbons
“Dusty Hill, Frank Beard, and Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) playing the Senior Prom in May, 1970 at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School in Orange, Texas. Apparently sometime between signing the contract and the actual prom itself, the band broke-out big. They tried to get out of the contract, but the school couldn’t find a replacement on such short notice so ZZ Top still performed…people were climbing through the windows, crashing the prom, just to hear the band play. This was all at a really small school with a graduating class of around 100, maybe less.” via
Before ZZ Top there was The Moving Sidewalks. Billy Gibbons (far right) founded the band (with Don Summers on bass, Dan Mitchell on drums, and Tom Moore on keyboard) in Houston, TX during the mid-1960s and they quickly caught on with the surging psychedelic youth scene happening at that time. They found success and a following with their hit single 99th Floor. via
In the late 1960s the Moving Sidewalks hit their stride and opened for The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. Billy Gibbons and Jimi Hendrix seemed to really hit it off– Hendrix going as far as paying Billy Gibbons the ultimate compliment on The Dick Cavett Show, saying that Gibbons was destined to become the next big guitarist. via
Anther massive Texas music legend– Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators (Roky and Billy were friends) heavily inspired Gibbons’ own artsy, psychedelic, concept band, the Moving Sidewalks. They and the 13th Floor Elevators played at the short-lived yet legendary Houston psychedelic venue, Love Street Light Circus at Allen’s Landing. The Elevators set was cut short by Houston Police who busted lead singer Roky Erickson for marijuana possession. (Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators at the New Orleans Club, 1966. Photo © Robert Simmons. Image from Boys From Houston.) via The Moving Sidewalks reunited in 2013, and Gibbons and Roky Erikson have shared the stage much to the delight of their long-time Texas fans.
ZZ Top in Nudie Suits!
ZZ Top live in the 1970s
A young Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top playing a live show.
ZZ Top –photo by Galen J. Scott
Atlanta, ZZ Top as an opening act in the summer of 1971.
So, how did Gibbons get his legendary tone? The tale of the Peso pick has become almost as big (among guitarists) as the band itself: “If you’re not using a quarter or a peso, use a regulation triangular pick. The small edge, which is designated as the picking side, should be turned away from the instrument, so you are actually picking with the fatter side, the shoulder. It gives you a wider grip and offers that meat connection: When the pick slides off (the string), the edge of the thumb can graze that twine and make it whine.” –Billy Gibbons
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Best concert I ever saw was ZZ, Ten Years After, Zappa w the Orchestra, and Quicksilver at Winterland circa 1972. One of those bizarre combos Bill Graham was famous for doing. Took windowpane and walked the sun up while evening out. Weather Report may or may not have also done the gig. First row upper bowl center back. I’d run to get six seats. I wish that I knew what I know now – when I was younger. Thank you for another eclectic view, JP.
I saw ZZ Top in ’72, at Tulagi’s On The Hill, in Boulder, CO for a $2.50 cover charge. It was right when they were on tour to support their 2nd album, Rio Grande Mud. I also remember reading in Bill Graham’s autobiography “Bill Graham Presents”, him speaking of booking the Rolling Stones tour in’72, when they were playing larger venues. Graham was working with local promoters to find big regional acts to fill in the crowd draws. He got a hold of a promoter, looking for a band to play on the Stone’s Texas swing. The promoter told Graham, “I got a band that’ll fill stadiums all by itself down here”. Graham asked who the band was, and the promoter said “ZZ Top”, to which Graham said “Who? Never heard of them….”. Hope you’re doing well, JP!
Great old photos, especially the one with Hendrix. Always like to see the really old stuff too. Reminds me of my youth and now growing older I have good company.
Love, love, love ZZ Top but never seen photos of them without the beards. Very cool – thanks for sharing.
I love the old promo photo they used to hand out. I haven’t seen one of those in years. My dad had gotten me one of Diamond Dave when I was a youngster. Great job as always . I heard them recently on stern and they sounded great still.
Keep up the awesome writing 🙂
I grew up on this stuff. I think it seeped into my DNA.
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