This sturdy American blues-rock trio from Texas formed in 1969 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 humour of the band. Their third album, Tres Hombres, gained them national attention with their 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 workload, they took a three-year break (during which, completely independently of each other, Gibbons and Hill grew their trademark beards), 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 blue-groove, giving their material a more contemporary edge while retaining their patented Texas style.
Now sporting long beards (except, ironically, for Frank Beard), 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 rock arena, while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support.
The only Rock & Roll group that is out there with all its original members still aboard after 20 plus years, ZZ Top’s music is always instantly recognisable, eminently powerful and 100% American in derivation and style.
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‘ shack. 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.
Bass player Dusty Hill passed away on 28 July 2021 at his home in Houston. He was 72.