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Beard expanded his pithy reply: "None of us likes organs. We don't like rhythm-guitar players and we're not from the Southeast, so we don't need a second drummer. Years later when we wrote a couple of tunes that needed horns, we just picked it up ourselves. If we've needed another instrument, we've figured a way for one of us to do it. Some people think you're limiting yourself but in a way you've got a lot more freedom. You're not constantly bumping into each other musically."
Even the videos, for all their pizzazz, are basic: girls, girls, and more girls. Their albums slickened a bit and Gibbons -- who once led the now-legendary Sixties punk group Moving Sidewalks -- admitted to Jeff Nesin: "Our engineers have always had some new ideas or other. [Producers] will put Frank in booth A and they'll put Dusty [Hill, bassist] across the street and run some telephone wire -- crazy kinds of situations to work under, all in the name of new technology and getting a better sound. A nod of the head is good enough -- it's what we've done for thirteen years on-stage. And they've always tried to figure a way to mess it up."
ZZ Top is currently mounting a tour in support of their latest album, last year's Rhythmeer. The lasting image I have of their music, however, is not as it is played in the vast arenas, but rather as it seeped from a dear friend's car. In his 1977 fully loaded Lincoln Continental, my friend Jerry, who would not be out of place as a member of ZZ Top, would open his tinted window a crack, emitting a thick plume of pipe smoke, the eight-track player cranking "Jesus Just Left Chicago" from a Best Of tape he inherited from the car's previous owner.
The slow blues unfolded like the soundtrack to a movie everyone's seen yet has never been made. He owned the ZZ Top eight-track by default and it had grown on him. Why that particular cut? "It was the only track that would play in the deck," he explained.
ZZ Top had come to him by accident, as I believe they've come to us all.