ZZ Top

The American blues rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The group members are Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass, keyboards, vocals), and Frank Beard (drums, percussion). They hold the distinction of being among the few rock bands still composed of its original recording members after more than 35 years and until September 2006, the same manager/producer, Bill Ham. They reached the peak of their commercial success in the 1970s and 1980s, scoring many hit songs during that era, but they remain together today and are still touring and releasing albums. ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 2004. Summarizing their music, Cub Koda wrote, “As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers; Gibbons is one of America’s finest blues guitarists working in the hard rock idiom … while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support.”

Their song lyrics often feature sexual innuendo and humor. Gibbons and Hill are also famous for their custom guitars, many of which were co-designed by Gibbons with master luthier John Bolin of Bolin Guitars. Hill requests that his basses have a similar neck profile to the 1950s Fender Precision Bass he used extensively in the early days of the band. Nearly as well-known as their music is the group’s appearance: Gibbons and Hill are almost always pictured wearing sunglasses (a nod to their 1979 song “Cheap Sunglasses”), similar if not matching clothing, and their trademark chest-length beards; ironically, Beard sports a mustache, but rarely a beard. In 1984, the Gillette Company reportedly offered Gibbons and Hill US$1 million apiece to shave their beards for a television commercial but they declined, stating “We’re too ugly without ’em”.

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