When you think of surf music, ZZ Top isn’t the first band that comes to mind. But guitarist and singer Billy Gibbons has been surfing since he was 13, when he first got a whiff of resin and foam at a Texas board shop.
While Gibbons owns the Fender Tank reverb and Jazzmaster guitars that are legendary for their surf rock sounds, he’s better known for his gruff Texas rock and blues. With bass player Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard, ZZ Top has been cranking out rockers for more than 40 years now.
You can see the band at the Avila Beach Music Festival tonight. The concert benefits Options, a nonprofit organization that helps disabled locals live independently.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, who made long beards chic, met backstage at a Doors show and started out opening for acts such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. After early hits like “La Grange” (about a bordello)
and “Tush” in the 1970s, the band’s fame skyrocketed in the 1980s when videos for “Legs,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and other songs became MTV staples.
As soon as the current tour ends, the band plans to record again with music titan Rick Rubin producing.
We spoke to Gibbons by phone Monday.
from LA. And he’s bringing all kinds of goodies: Some new costuming, a couple of new guitars we had commissioned. Some dice. We’ll play a dice game. All kinds of fun stuff.
It all happened quite by accident. In ‘76, we took a brief break from the rigors of the road. We were going to come off for a nice little 90-day holiday. And that turned into six months, and the next thing you know a year had gone by. Frank had gone down to Jamaica, Dusty went to Mexico, and I wound up in Paris, France. Although we were speaking by phone, this was pre-video phone. And Dusty and I did not know that we had gotten so lazy that we had decided to forget to shave. So after three years we returned and showed up, and lo and behold here was this sort of wacky-looking image. And it just kind of stuck with us.