It all started when...
Billy Gibbons, aka The Rev. Willie G. and "That Lil ol Band from Texas, aka The Texas Triplets, aka ZZ Top, has been rocking us since the late 1960s with some of the best rock music ever created.
Originally known as "The Moving Sidewalks" few people know or remember that they toured with Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck before recording their first album as the band we know today as ZZ Top.
My First Exposure to Billy Gibbons
I have personally been rocking out to the big riff guitar sounds and songwriting prowess of The Reverend since I was a kid in the mid-1970s. I remember when I first heard that tight Les Paul crunch tone on "Tush" and "Waitin' for the Bus" and I was instantly hooked. How does he make that sound so crisp, I thought, and why is his tone so much better that most stuff I was hearing?
Legendary Rock Guitarist? Absolutely!
Billy Gibbons often gets ignored when the conversation is about the best electric guitar players to ever rock. We instantly think of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend but Billy Gibbons, in my humble opinion, belongs in that group of legends and is really their contemporary.
To me, especially when I listen to the early stuff that really gets your blood flowing and your heart pumping, it's the subtle nature of his playing. Listen closely. He's doing some amazing stuff and a lot if it is hardly noticeable...but it's there and it's those subtle riffs played in passing that truly makes the song come alive and why they still move me to this day.
Not Drum Machine ZZ Top
Even though many non-guitarists know them for hits from the "Eliminator" era and after ("Sharp Dressed Man" "Gimme All Your Lovin") and they are not ashamed of that stuff (and I like a lot of it myself) to me, they are missing out. I'm happy they made a lot of money and gained a bigger world audience with that material...but I will always love them for their early stuff.
To some, they are a novelty band. The beards, the drum machine based songs of the 1980s and after...I get it. But, through all of that distraction, the essence that is ZZ Top and The Rev. Willie G. is undeniable brilliance.
Billy Gibbons: An Example of Why He Is So Great
Think about it. A perfect example is their song "La Grange" off "Rio Grande Mud" and arguably one of their best and biggest hits from the early era. Sound like an easy song to play...right? But how many cover bands have you heard in a club absolutely butcher that song. Why?
Because the beauty is in Billy's guitar nuances, the subtleties, the parts that he plays almost in passing, that add the flavor. To me, that's why he's so good and why he is a legend. He makes that stuff look effortless, yet, without it, the song sucks and falls flat, like all those lame bands that attempt to play it.
Old ZZ Top is Just Amazing Guitar Playing
I can put on "Fandango" or "Greatest Hits" and just get lost for hours. "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers," "Heard It On The X," "Just Got Paid," "Back Door Love Affair," "Waitin For The Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago...," Are you f***ing kidding me? Amazing guitar playing and so tight as a group!
And for me and I'm sure many other guitarists out there, as you become more knowledgeable about how he got that amazing guitar tone and learn the story of "Pearly Gates" and why '59 Les Paul Bursts in general really make such a huge difference in achieving that tone, you get it.
That's Where I Learned My Licks
As a 13 year old kid, I remember when "Deguello" came out, after their 3 year hiatus as a band. I was mesmerized by the songs, the sounds, the guitar playing. They seemed refreshed and I learned and honed many riffs that are now just part of my reflexes and where I tend to go when jamming anything.
So, as a good friend of mine would say, "don't sleep" on Billy Gibbons and how truly amazing he is. I believe it is true with all the guitar greats: they make it look easy...when in truth, it is anything but easy.
Billy Gibbons is my Guitar Booster Shot
To this day when I get bored and need an energetic, feel good guitar playing booster shot, I just reach for some Billy Gibbons and some classic ZZ Top. It is timeless, it is crunchy, and it is downright badass guitar playing at its finest. Does me right, everytime...How How How How!
COMING SOON: LEARN THE STORY OF "PEARLY GATES," HIS 1959 LES PAUL BURST: HOW HE ACQUIRED IT AND HOW IT GOT ITS NAME.