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ZZ Top

ZZ Top bio, timeline, discography, pics & more

ZZ Top

ZZ Top band 2011

ZZ Top Biography

ZZ Top formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas USA, with Billy Gibbons on guitar + vocals, Dusty Hill on bass + vocals and Frank Beard on drums. The trio bonded around a shared love of basic Blues, boogie-Rock and all things Texas-related and no one does it better, or has done it longer, than this “little ol' band from Texas”, as they were affectionately known to fans.

Signing with London Records and beginning with the release of "ZZ Top's First Album" in 1970, the rough-and-ready Blues-Rock power trio toured constantly, slowly building a large fan base.

One and a half year later they released "Rio Grande Mud", their first album that charted on the U.S. Pop Sales list reaching the #104 position; the single, "Francine", peaked at #69 on The Billboard Hot 100.

In the summer of 1973 arrived "Tres Hombres", it was around this time that ZZ Top built a word-of-mouth following on the road and nonstop touring, in turn, propelled record sales. "Tres Hombres" crested at #8 on the Pop Albums chart and the lead single, "La Grange", stopped just short of the Billboard's top 40, at #41.

1975's "Fandango!", a record split between a side of live tracks and a side of new studio cuts, hit #10 in U.S. and like its predecessor, eventually achieving gold status. The key track, the hard-driving "Tush", became thir first American top 40 single and weighed in at #20 on The Billboard Hot 100.

ZZ Top issued its next studio outing, "Tejas", in late 1976, it peaked at #17 on the Top 200 Pop Albums chart going gold but none of the singles managed to enter the top 40: "It's Only Love" reached #44 and "Arrested For Driving While Blind", barely got a toehold at #91 on the Billboard chart.
The group carried stagecraft to elaborate heights with its Worldwide Texas Tour. For this mid-'70s extravaganza, one of the largest-grossing road trips in Rock at the time which came between "Fandango!" and "Tejas", ZZ Top lugged 75 tons of equipment and animals native to Texas, including a buffalo, a longhorn cattle, buzzards, rattlesnakes, cactus and other Southwestern paraphernalia.

They didn't record for the next three years, until late 1979 when they released "Degüello", the trio's first album for Warner Bros. Records. The disc hit #24 on the Billboard Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart and became ZZ Top's first LP to receive a platinum rating. The inagural single, their cover of Sam & Dave's "I Thank You", grabbed a #34 spot on The Billboard Hot 100; the album also contained "Cheap Sunglasses", which reached #84 on the same chart and the white trash anthem "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide".

In the fall of 1981 the Texan three-piece returned with their seventh studio effort, "El Loco"; it debuted at #17 on the U.S. chart and spun off three singles: "Leila" just squeaked into The Billboard Hot 100, "Tube Snake Boogie" rose to #4 on The Mainstream Rock Tracks and "Pearl Necklace" reached #28 on that same chart.

ZZ Top made a quantum leap from from AOR radio favorites to massive stardom when, in the spring of 1983, churned out a modern Blues synth-Rock driven album titled "Eliminator" which shot to #9 on The Billboard 200 and went on to sell more than 10 million copies in U.S. alone. The disc was also a huge hit in Canada, U.K. and Australia. The first single was the worldwide smash "Gimme All Your Lovin" which fell just one spot short of #1 on The Mainstream Rock chart and hit the American top 40. Several more singles penetrated The Mainstream Rock chart: "Got Me Under Pressure" peaked #18, "Sharp Dressed Man" soared to #8, "TV Dinners" reached #38 and "Legs" eventually, in the summer of 1984, went to #8 on The Billboard Hot 100, their best chart placing to date.

The trend continued with "Afterburner"; released in the fall of 1985, it quickly bulleted into the top 5 of The Billboard 200 producing an amazing string of seven Mainstream Rock smashes including two #1s, "Sleeping Bag" and "Stages", the top 5 hit "Rough Boy", the top 10 "Can't Stop Rockin'" and three top 20 "Velcro Fly", "Delirious" and "Woke Up With Wood". The first single, "Sleeping Bag", was also a success in Europe and became their second top 10 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. "Afterburner" was eventually certified quintuple-platinum by the RIAA.

A full five years passed before ZZ Top returned with their tenth studio effort, "Recycler", which rose to #6 on The Billboard 200 but the album stalled at platinum sales. The CD yielded another series of hit singles, the Mainstream Rock chart-toppers "Doubleback", "My Head's In Mississippi" and "Concrete And Steel", plus "Give It Up", which peaked at #2 and "Decision Or Collision", a top 20 entrant on the same chart.

April 1992 saw the release of "Greatest Hits" which landed at #9 on The Billboard Top 200 Albums chart selling no less than 3 million copies. The compilation featured two previously unreleased tracks, "Viva Las Vegas" and "Gun Love", which both climbed The Mainstream Rock chart, hitting #16 and #8, respectively.

After Warner Bros. released "Greatest Hits", ZZ Top left the label and signed a $30 million deal with RCA. The band's first album for the new label, "Antenna", was named in tribute to Rock radio; it debuted at #14 on The Billboard 200 and received platinum certification becoming the last release in an unbroken string of eleven gold and platinum albums. The lead-off single, "Pincushion", shot to #1 on The Mainstream Rock chart and was followed by the top 10 hit "Breakaway". "Girl In A T-Shirt" and "Fuzzbox Voodoo" were also aired by Active Rock stations and both the songs landed into the top 30 of the Billboard's airplay chart.

The band's next offering, the Blues-oriented "Rhythmeen", was released in September 1996, it reached #26 on The Billboard 200 and spun off a new stream of Active Rock top 40 hits, chief among them "What's Up With That" which held the #5 spot in October, "She's Just Killing Me" peaked at #12, "Bang Bang" went a bit beyond the top 20 and the album's title-track made it to #35.

While ZZ Top remains a popular touring attraction, its late-'90s album fared poorly on the chart, "XXX" failed to make it past #100 on The Billboard Top 200 and dropped out of the chart four weeks after its September 1999 release. The disc contained "Fearless Boogie" which peaked at #13 on The Mainstream Rock Tracks and "36-22-36" which reached #31 on the same chart.

Four years later the trio resurfaced with "Mescalero"; released in September 2003, it debuted at #57 on The Billboard 200 but failed to generate a Rock radio hit.

Ahead of the band's comeback album, in June 2012 Gibbons, Hill and Beard released as a taster for the new record a 4-track digital EP entiled "Texicali" which contained two Heritage Rock radio top 40 hits: "I Gotsta Get Paid" and "Chartreuse". The songs were both featured on "La Futura" which hit #6 on The Billboard 200 and #7 on the Top Canadian Albums charts upon its September 2012 release.


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ZZ Top pictures:

  • ZZ Top band mid 70s ZZ Top band mid 70s
    [LtoR] Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard & Dusty Hill (mid-'70s)