ZZ Top Guitarist Billy Gibbons Shares The Secret To The Band’s Longevity

They are one of the most well known rock bands from the 80s when ZZ Top seemingly burst overnight onto the music scene with the success of their Eliminator album featuring hit songs like “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs,” “La Grange,” and “Tush.”

Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers (comprised of guitarist/lead vocalist Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill who plays bass, keyboards and backing vocals along with Frank Beard on drums, percussion and backing vocals) look forward to celebrating the band’s semi-centennial in 2019.

ZZ TopPhoto Credit: ZZ Top

The “little ol’ band from Texas” was planning to rock into Boston next Friday for their performance at the Orpheum, but unfortunately, their tour has just been postponed due to bass guitarist, Dusty Hill’s recent stomach ailment. (They are currently working on an immediate date for rescheduling).

ZZ Top - Billy Gibbons

We caught up recently with ZZ Top’s legendary guitarist, Billy Gibbons, to find out the secret to the band’s timeless success.

You’re one of the most recognizable guitarists in history and have been for nearly 50 years. What’s the secret to ZZ Top’s longevity?

The secret is we continue to have a good time doing what we do and that thing we do is playing what we want to hear.  It’s an excursive in mutual gratification so on the party train, especially after all this time.

Who or what inspires you musically along the way and what keeps you motivated as an artist?

The original inspiration is still there: the blues.  We heard Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and B.B. King and decided that’s what we not only wanted to do but needed to do. The fact that all of these giants continued to keep on keepin’ on is instructive, as well.  The motivation to continue remains letting the good times roll and those who hear our music understand we have something to offer so the continuum, er, uh, continues!

What has been your most memorable moment on stage?

That was probably when we played Texas Stadium in Austin in front of 100,000 enthusiastic Texans.  We showcased a small menagerie including a bison, a longhorn steer, a vulture and a couple rattlesnakes just to keep things interesting.  They’ve never had another rock show there after all these years.  No need to wonder why.

Which ZZ Top song is your most favorite to perform live?

The catalog is vast but we also cheat when asked this question and opt for two because, “Waitin’ For the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” have been conjoined since “birth.”  A key splice by our trusty engineer created the space between the two songs, cut 1 and cut 2 on side one of “Tres Hombres”. A minimalist’s move along the lines of Madame Curie’s discovery of radium turned two songs into one and that’s the way the two continue to be performed..  Seems like the hand of fate intervened making a tasty tune of the two!

Where do you like to go when in Boston?

Santarpio’s Pizza on Chelsea in East Boston.  Nothing compares and it’s always a pilgrimage we make when we’re in the hood.

What does the future hold for the band?

We’ve been recording some new material and we’ll soon be back in the studio for more rambunctiousness.  We’re releasing the tracks sequentially rather than as an entire album in one gulp.  That and, of course, more gettin’ out there and turning it up!