Right along with being guaranteed the last entry in any alphabetical list of history's greatest rock 'n' roll bands, ZZ Top has one other quality that makes it stand out from the pack: longevity. And, no, that's not a reference to the size of their beards.
Since guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard first got together in 1969 in Houston to put their own spin on Texas blues, there have been no breakups and no replacement members. That means for the past 48 years, when you went to a ZZ Top show, you knew who and what you were getting: a legitimate trio of classic-rock legends playing two hours of their hits, from the rough-and-tumble "La Grange" to the New Wave "Legs" to covers of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" and Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
Though they make the pilgrimage to South Florida most winters, it's usually to play in arenas or amphitheaters. But this year's date has them playing March 17 at the smaller-capacity Fillmore. This should not only allow you to have a better vantage point to check out their notoriously unruly, facial hair, but it will also give you a closer view to check out the guitar playing of Billy Gibbons, the man Jimi Hendrix himself famously said on The Tonight Show was one of the world's greatest guitarists.
Gibbons told New Times in a past interview that hearing Hendrix say such kind things about him on TV blew him away. "Though we beg to differ, it was a transformative experience. We pay tribute to him just about every night with a key Hendrix repertoire selection worked into our set. It's the very least we can do."
He also clued us in on how they get all their old songs to sound fresh. "It's really not a secret because we've said it many times before: You can't lose with the blues. That's the fundament of our sound, and it seems to renew itself without our having to give it much thought."
This philosophy of not fixing what ain't broke has done ZZ Top well over the decades. Since 1969, they've held tight to their lineup, their musical influences, and long beards. And don't forget the cheap sunglasses and staying "sharp-dressed" men.
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