ZZ Top Biography

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This sturdy American blues-rock trio from Texas consists of Billy Gibbons (guitar), Dusty Hill (bass), and Frank Beard (drums). They were formed in 1970 in and around Houston from rival bands the Moving Sidewalks (Gibbons) and the American Blues (Hill and Beard). Their first two albums reflected the strong blues roots and Texas humor of the band. Their third album (Tres Hombres) gained them national attention with the hit "La Grange," a signature riff tune to this day, based on John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen." Their success continued unabated throughout the '70s, culminating with the year-and-a-half-long Worldwide Texas Tour.

Exhausted from the overwhelming work load, they took a three-year break, then switched labels and returned to form with Deguello and El Loco, both harbingers of what was to come. By their next album, Eliminator, and its worldwide smash follow-up, Afterburner, they had successfully harnessed the potential of synthesizers to their patented grungy blues-groove, giving their material a more contemporary edge while retaining their patented Texas style. Now sporting long beards, golf hats, and boiler suits, they met the emerging video age head-on, reducing their "message" to simple iconography. Becoming even more popular in the long run, they moved with the times while simultaneously bucking every trend that crossed their path.

As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers; Gibbons is one of America's finest blues guitarists working in the arena of rock idiom -- both influenced by the originators of the form and British blues-rock guitarists like Peter Green -- while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support. The only rock & roll group that's out there with its original members still aboard after three decades (an anniversary celebrated on 1999's XXX), ZZ Top's music is always instantly recognizable, eminently powerful, profoundly soulful, and 100% American in derivation. They have continued to support the blues through various means, perhaps the most visible when they were given a piece of wood from Muddy Waters's shack in Clarksdale, MS. The group members had it made into a guitar, dubbed the "Muddywood," then sent it out on tour to raise money for the Delta Blues Museum. ZZ Top's support and link to the blues remains as rock solid as the music they play. -- Cub Koda, All Music Guide

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Forty + Years of Delightfully Distorted Originality | Reviewer: Willy Hodges | 12/24/12

Lucky enough to have grown up with the Music of these Iconic Forces of Nature. Buying "Tres Hombres" in 1973 at 14 "got" me. "Master of Sparks" & "Sheik" led me back to 1st 2 albums. "Just Got Paid" & "Down Brownie" only whetted my appetite 4 more. (I'm moving fairly quickly, 40 yrs. would take forever, if not):) Saw them live in 75 on "Fandango Tour" (plus tossing Billy a joint rolled in strawberry reefer rollers that he gladly accepted, joking about a "pink marlboro" as he stashed it in the pocket of his glittering "Nudie" jacket) Heard a KILLER up tempo version of "Precious and Grace" that night that I STILL remember to this very day. "Tejas", underrated IMO brought us "Arrested For Driving While Blind", "Pan-Am Highway Blues" & Classic, "El Diablo". Saw 2 more live Shows, "World Wide Takin' Texas to the People Tour" & "Deguello-Expect No Quarter Tour" if I remember my T-Shirt correctly. :) That finished out the 70's, my youth AND the beards appeared.(unintentionally) "El-Locomotion Tour" + "El Loco" album in 81 brought them (loved that little ditty, "Heaven Hell or Houston" + "Pearl Necklace") right to that pivotal MTV "Eliminator" moment in 83 & 4 mainstream America, a "new" Band was on the scene. :) "That Lil' Ole' Band from Texas" was, in essence, no more. New Level, New Fans. 13 yrs. in, THEY ACHIEVED HUGE COMMERCIAL SUCCESS. Great 4 bank accounts, "we" just wanted ZZ Top (sans synthesizers & electronics) back. Fast forward!!LISTEN!! 1990 A faded but recognizable fuzzed-up howl from the wilderness.....YES! "My Head's in Mississippi" I REMEMBER THIS BAND. :) My "Antenna" was activated & waiting 4 "Fuzzbox Voodoo"& "Girl In a T-Shirt"! Followed thankfully & brilliantly by JUGZZ of "Rhythmeen". Nasty, Funky & Fuzzy. One of their Best, IMO. Glad to see my men "back". :) Finish out 30 yrs. pretty well with "Triple XXX". STILL "Fearless". :) "Poke Chop Sandwich" & Dreadmonboogaloo" are nice little gems. The "one" thing I start to notice (doesn't mean it hasn't actually been going on longer, though)A little less "energy" physically, from Billy especially. I am so used to his "Manic Mechanic" attack, I see too, I am growing older also, along with them. Understood, guys. It happens. Then we get "Dusted. With a dustball." ha-ha The Texas Trio breath fire into "Mescalero" in 03. These men are "really" touring this album too. Old School. No "America's Got Talent" mentality 4 these guys. Doin' it the same as when they started in Moving Sidewalks & American Blues. Yessiree. Sombreros 4 all. :) Billy will not part with the African Chief's headgear obtained via "a swap" so whatever hat that is worn now, goes OVER the Chief's "gift". :) Ah, Rev. Willy G., nobody like him. "Ten-Foot Pole", yeti encounter?? Would LOVE to ask him & clear those lyrics up. Well over 30 yrs. then, by 08, what else? "Live In Texas". It's OK. For MY money, I'll take 2011's "Live In Germany" 1980, recorded in Essen on European leg of "Deguello" Tour. This 1, I have in my collection plus had seen Show in 79 on about the 5th or 6th Date in Memphis, Tn. after it kicked off in U.S. about 6 months earlier. From the "Lone Wolf Horns" to the flaming ZZ logo at bottom of drum riser, & blasting into "I Thank You", it's ZZ Top in their Prime. Pre-Eliminator, by 3 yrs. & at the absolute top of their game. A Kick-Ass Show. It sizzles. Europe then knew that there was a new force to be reckoned with.(Not "new" to us, of course) All this done in spite of the time, it was something like 3 to 5:30 a.m. that they performed! Crowd responded & were rewarded with a Legendary & seminal performance. Simply one of the Greatest American Rock Bands in History. Take your pick of either the more commercial sounding era 83-90 (roughly) Nothing wrong with that. The early stuff is essential, IMO. "Rhythmeen", & "Antenna" in 96 & 94, respectively, are excellent albums, 4 the most part. My opinions, 4 what they are worth, 1st 1 of THESE I've ever done 4 sure. I am a admitted ZZ Top Fan-addict, so, this IS biased. But.... Honest. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year. W. H.

Quality mix of Blues & Rock | Reviewer: Dave | 6/6/06

ZZTop, what more can i say, the beards have said it already! They combine true blues with the best of old school rock & even a few choice modern components. Their unique style is backed by their experience as genuine proffessional musicians, unlike the majority of modern music. This foundation in true music makes many of their more comic videos & songs really work, where others would fall miserably to the way side. A must see is their Greatest Hits video, it gives their best songs, as well as the video which brings them to life. You can even see not so subtle references to some of these videos in the simpsons! In the end though, there is little more to say than that the band produces completely amazing music!


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