Give’m All Your Lovin’

ZZ Top Rocks the Hard Rock Live Nov. 1

An exclusive one-on-one interview with iconic rocker Billy Gibbons


ZZ Top, aka “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” lays undisputed claim to being the longest running major rock band with its original personnel line-up intact. The Texas trio, Billy F. Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. And on Nov. 1, the iconic music trio will jam for fans at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood. For ticket information, go to or ticketmaster.

Opulence Magazine sat down with ZZ Top’s legendary drummer Billy Gibbons. Here’s a sneak peek of our interview that will appear in full length in the upcoming Winter edition of Opulence!

Q. OPULENCE: Billy, you grew up in the Houston area with a father who was an orchestra conductor and a concert pianist. What was your father’s reaction when he learned your career path in music was so vastly different than his – and how did it come to be that he sent you to New York to study with Tito Puente?

A. BILLY: My dad was a professional musician, so that in itself cleared the path for me in terms of pursing music quite obsessively from a very, very young age. He never stood in my way or counseled me to “get a real job” because his “real job” was music. He brought me to a B.B. King session when I was 7 or 8 years old and that was a huge eye opener as far as my focus on guitar was concerned. As a kid, I would bang on whatever was handy — trash cans, pots and pans, etc. and that kind of drove my parents a little batty so my father decided to enlist the aid of a professional and that was Tito Puente. Off to New York I was shipped and my percussive proclivities were brought into some semblance of order. He taught me that putting the rhythm frontside was critical to moving backsides.  Like riding a bicycle, this idea stayed with me even though in rock and blues, the rhythm is out back.  When I decided to do a Latin-flavored Afro-Cuban inspired solo project (Perfectamundo), it call came flooding back.

Q. OPULENCE: When you were 13, what memories do you have about the moment you received your first electric guitar?

A. BILLY: I suspect it started with that lust to be rockin’ and rollin,’ so the move for a plug-in axe was automatic. And, on Christmas morning just after my 13th birthday, it was there under the tree. A Gibson Melody Maker – that was the gateway to what’s still happening to this day. Before the sun set, I managed to get behind the intro to “What’d I Say” and the Jimmy Reed turnaround which remains a part of the conceptual repertoire to this day.

Q. OPULENCE: How did you get connected and become friends with Jimi Hendrix?! Tell us some compelling memories you have about him. What went through your mind when Jimi went on The Tonight Show saying that you’d be the next hottest guitarist?

A. BILLY: Our pre-ZZ band, The Moving Sidewalks, shared bills with quite few high profile touring acts, including the Doors, the Jeff Beck Group (featuring a shy singer named Rod Stewart) and, of course, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  He was wild on stage but shy and reticent off. Of course I was impressed with his performance but I was equally touched by his warmth and giving nature.  He was very kind to me and showed me some techniques (transposed for me being right handed… he was a lefty) and approaches that are still in the “guitarsenal” to this day.  The fact that our admiration was mutual is still a source of pride, so we do our best to work one of his songs into our set just about every night as a kind of ongoing tribute to the man who took the electric guitar to places its inventors would never have imagined

Q. OPULENCE: You’ve said that “Tone, Taste and Tenacity” are important virtues of ZZ Top. Please elaborate on what you mean by that specifically – and how the name ZZ Top was created.

A. BILLY: Tone is both the actual sound you hear and our affect… how we present ourselves and our music and the specifics of the audio output.  Taste is reflected in the choices we make… the repertoire, the thought given to our overall presentation both in public and else wise. Tenacity is just that.  We’ve been doing this a long, long time, so we’re sort of “baked in” to the fabric of people’s lives… and the other way around.  The name springs to mind because “AA Bottom” just seemed too jejune.

Thanks for your time Billy! Looking forward to seeing you and your fellow Sharp Dressed Men –Dusty and Frank — perform ZZ Top’s legendary rock, jazz and blues at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, on November 1. Opluence readers – don’t forget to look for our full interview with Bill Gibbons in our winter edition in early December.


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Give’m All Your Lovin’