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ZZ Top History

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ZZ Top's history is one of rock stardom, cool cars, and really long beards. If you're looking for rock and roll feuds, look elsewhere - ZZ Top is one of those rare bands that has managed to keep all of the same members for their 35 year and counting career. What you will find in ZZ Top's history is the story of a slow and steady rise to fame that earned the band a place in the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.

ZZ Top History - The Early Years

ZZ Top was formed in 1969 in Texas. The band members are:

  • Billy Gibbons
  • Dusty Hill
  • Frank Beard (and yes, Beard is the one who does NOT have a beard)

Beginning in 1970, ZZ Top toured almost constantly, building up an audience base slowly but surely. Their raw, blues influenced rock sound earned them one minor success, with the release of their debut album, Tres Hombres, but in a world in which radio was gripped by disco and singer songwriters, their sound did not find mainstream success in the early days. Too rootsy to find fans among their fellow blues influenced rockers Led Zeppelin fans, the early and mid 1970s just were not ready for ZZ Top. After touring almost continually for seven years, ZZ Top decided to hang up the guitars in 1977 to take a break and get a fresh perspective on things.

Success At Last

Two years later, ZZ Top decided to get back together and head into the studio to start work on a new album. This album, Eliminator, was released in 1983 and rocketed ZZ Top to stardom. The timing was right now - MTV had just hit the airways, and ZZ Top was ripe for the music video medium. Their unique looks, coupled by their winning video formula of hot chicks and hot cars made them a hit with audiences. Songs like "Legs," "Gimme All Your Lovin," and "Sharp Dressed Man" gave music listeners a down to earth, everyman alternative to the New Wave/New Romantic artists that were dominating MTV in those days (those days when MTV played music!).

Eliminator ended up being the biggest hit that ZZ Top has had to date. The follow up album, Afterburner, did well, but it never quite got off the ground in the same way. By the time the 1990 release Recycler came around, music had changed dramatically. Grunge music was on the cusp of turning the music world on its ear, hip hop was becoming a powerful form of music, and hair bands ruled the airways and MTV. Recycler sold well, but less than Afterburner. This post Recycler period marked the end of an era in ZZ Top history.

1990s and Beyond

After Recycler, ZZ Top signed a deal with RCA Records. They released albums through the 1990s, but the heyday was clearly over. The accolades began pouring in through this period, including induction into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame and a VH1 Rock Honors Award. As of 2007, the band continues to tour but is currently unsigned.

ZZ Top Discography

ZZ Top's studio album discography is as follows:

  • ZZ Top's First Album
  • Rio Grande Mud
  • Tres Hombres
  • Fandango
  • Tejas
  • Deguello
  • El Loco
  • Eliminator
  • Afterburner
  • Recycler
  • Antennae
  • Rhythmeen
  • XXX
  • Mescalero

ZZ Top Trivia

  • Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill did not have those trademark beards when the band started. When they were on hiatus in 1977, the two did not see each other, and when they returned to the studio, they were shocked to discover that each had independently grown shockingly long beards.
  • Gillette Razor Company offered the band $1 million each to shave their beards in 1984 for a TV commercial - they declined.
  • The car seen in many popular ZZ Top videos is known as the CadZZilla and belongs to Billy Gibbons.
ZZ Top History