Texas Monthly Talks

Musician
Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons


Interview


Notes from Evan Smith

"He’s one of the most famous, most revered, most recognizable American musicians, and yet most of you have never heard his speaking voice. I certainly hadn’t — but then Billy F. Gibbons, the one and only lead singer of ZZ Top, agreed to sit for a rare interview, and by the end of our very gentle, genial conversation, my impression of him had completely changed. For one thing, who knew that the man behind the iconic beard and cool-cat shades was so self-reflective? Born and raised in Houston, the son of a society bandleader who had worked for Samuel Goldwyn at MGM Studios, 59-year-old Gibbons got his start as the founder and frontman of a psychedelic group, the Moving Sidewalks, and by age 18 was opening for the likes of Jimi Hendrix and the Doors. It was backstage at a Doors show that Gibbons was introduced to Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, then of Dallas, by their future manager, the svengali-like Bill Ham. In the 39 years since the formation of what some like to call “The Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” ZZ Top has had the same line-up — how many other musical acts that have been around that long can say the same thing? — and Gibbons has emerged, by design or default, as their leader. And what a run they’ve had: fourteen albums, including Tres Hombres, Eliminator, Afterburner, and Mescalero, along with six anthologies, and a slew of singles that remain, thanks to a combination of MTV, Hollywood soundtracks, and Madison Avenue, among the most easily identifiable of any recorded in the modern era: “Legs,” “Sharp-Dressed Man,” “La Grange,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” and so many more. It doesn’t get any more Texan than Gibbons and his mates, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, finally and inevitably, in 2004. What an amazing career, as you’re about to hear." - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 04.24.08