ZZ TOP a/k/a “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” lay undisputed claim to being the longest running major rock band with original personnel intact and, in 2004, the Texas trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, there are only three of them – Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard — but it’s still a remarkable achievement that they’re still very much together after almost 45 years of rock, blues, and boogie on the road and in the studio performing fan favorites and hits like “Gimme All Your Lovin, “ “Rough Boy,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Tush,” “Legs” and so many more.
The elements that keep ZZ TOP fresh, enduring and above the transitory fray can be summed up in the three words of the band’s internal mantra: “Tone, Taste and Tenacity.” Of course, the three members of the band have done their utmost to do their part in assuring that ZZ TOP prevails. As genuine roots musicians, the members of the band have few peers. Billy is widely regarded as one of American finest blues guitarists working in the rock idiom. His influences are both the originators of the form – Muddy Waters, B.B. King, et al – as well as the British blues rockers who emerged the generation before ZZ’s ascendance. In his early days of playing, no less an idol that Jimi Hendrix singled him out for praise. Part mad scientist, part prankster, he’s a musical innovator of the highest order and a certified “guitar god.” He’s a recurring small screen presence in the hit TV series Bones in which he plays a bearded, gruff, rock guitarist. No type casting problems for Billy.
Dusty has long had an affinity for rock’s origins; his earliest performances as a child included Elvis songs convincingly performed. Not only is he a bass virtuoso in his own right, his vocal prowess is awe-inspiring. He’s the lead voice you hear on “Tush” and his ferocious vocals are heard, to great effect, on his idol Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock,” these days, often a concert encore number and recorded by the band on Fandango! Good natured and diligent, Dusty is the rock solid bottom of ZZ TOP.
Frank has also been keeping the beat in that great tradition. As both a roots and progressive drummer, he has been acknowledged as key to the band’s powerful on-stage and in-studio presence. He and Dusty, in their early years together, served as Lightnin’ Hopkins’ rhythm section which, as Frank tells it, was a life changing experience. Frank, despite his last name, is the guy in the band without a beard. But when you’re with him, you’re with a Beard. He’s a rockin’ paradox who provides the pulse of ZZ TOP.
ZZ TOP’s music is always instantly recognizable, eminently powerful, profoundly soulful and 100% Texas American in derivation. The band’s support for the blues is unwavering both as interpreters of the music and preservers of its legacy. It was ZZ TOP that celebrated “founding father” Muddy Waters by turning a piece of scrap timber than had fallen from his sharecropper’s shack into a beautiful guitar, dubbed the “Muddywood.” This totem was sent on tour as a fundraising focus for The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi, site of Robert Johnson’s famed “Crossroads” encounter with the devil. ZZ TOP’s support and link to the blues remains as rock solid as the music they continue to play. They have sold millions of records over the course of their career, have been officially designated as Heroes of The State of Texas, have been referenced in countless cartoons and sitcoms and are true rock icons but, against all odds, they’re really just doing what they’ve always done. They’re real and they’re surreal and they’re ZZ TOP.
Tickets for ZZ Top are on sale! Gates open at noon; showtime is 2:00 P.M. Tickets are available online atwww.IndianRanch.com, by calling 1-800-514-ETIX (3849) or at the Indian Ranch Box Office.
Indian Ranch is located at 200 Gore Road in Webster, MA outside of Worcester and less than an hour’s drive from Boston, Providence, Hartford and Springfield. For more information, visitwww.indianranch.com.