Iconic band ZZ Top and legendary rock guitarist Jeff Beck are ready to party in the great outdoors at Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca, NY on Friday, August 29 for what is sure to be one of the highlights of the summer concert season.
When you hear the name ZZ Top, your mind automatically conjures up two things: their trademark beards and some of the best rock, blues and boogie music of the past 40 years. Known as “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” ZZ Top has held the title of the longest running major rock band with the original members of Billy F. Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard - who ironically is the only member without a beard.
The band have stayed true to their Texas roots and genuinely love to be out there performing for their fans and just playing their music and making every show a grass roots party.
When I caught up with guitarist Billy Gibbons recently, we talked about future projects, the band’s secret of maintaining a respectful and likeable relationship for over 40 years, the truth about how they came up with the name for the band, and of course, those beards.
With iconic hits like “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” the band reached the pinnacle of any music artist’s career when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which added fuel to the fire for ZZ Top, whose internal mantra is … Tone, Taste and Tenacity.
There is yet another generation of music lovers joining the die-hard fans for some rockin’ good music and good times, which is evident at any show they do.
Speaking of fans, read on for a personal message from Gibbons to all those fans that are planning on coming out to see the band on Aug. 29.
A CONVERSATION WITH BILLY GIBBONS
HULICK:The all new DVD, “The Very Baddest - Live at Montreux 2013,” is your newest release to add to your incredible discography. Any plans on a new upcoming album?
GIBBONS:Yes, in a general and ongoing way. There are quite a few songs, chords, riffs and titles rattling around in the band’s collective head, propelled by the upcoming tour dates with our friend Jeff Beck. Good reason to compose some more good stuff.
HULICK:You are the longest running band with the same members, since its start, well over 40 years ago. With as much touring and studio work that you do, what’s different with you guys that you don’t come unglued because of egos, creative differences or just the usual in fighting that bands typically fall victim to?
GIBBONS:First and foremost, we have a real fine time getting to do what we do, so really, ain’t any reason to do otherwise. The fact that we’re an odd (some say “very odd”) number makes tie-breakers impossible. Here’s the thing with ZZ … we see no reason to mess up what’s taken so long to build up. This band likes getting down with it and gettin’ it on …!
HULICK:There are many “theories” of how the name of the band came about, including everything from barn doors, cigarettes, bra sizes, record placement (always at the end), a neon pizza sign with missing lighted letters and even a play on words simulated from a slang term for marijuana read back-to-front (POT ZZ). Can you tell our readers the real story of how the name came to be?
GIBBONS:OK, here’s the straight dope. We thought about calling ourselves AA Bottom but it just didn’t feel right so we did the total opposite and we realized, “that’s us!”
HULICK:I’ve interviewed many bands and one question I ask seems to get either a pro or con answer, no in between. When you reach a certain status of your staying power, tribute bands start popping up, and of course you have several that are on the current scene. What are your thoughts on these cover bands, and have you heard and/or seen any of them?
GIBBONS:We love ‘em. We’ve seen a few who do a great job musically and a few who do a great job visually, but when you get the two together it’s a wonder to behold. Wait! That’s us! Little known fact: Billy Bob Thornton, a dear friend of ours, was the drummer in Fandango!, a ZZ Top tribute band and he’s done pretty well for himself. We think getting out there and covering “Tush” and “Just Got Paid” is a sure path to stardom. It certainly was for us.
HULICK:In that same vein … it seems there is a hunger, if you will, to produce Broadway shows on the music and careers of some of our most iconic artists and bands, such as Billy Joel, Frank Valli and the Four Seasons, The Million Dollar Quartet (Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins), Mama Mia’ (ABBA), Motown the Musical (Barry Gordy) and more recently Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Would this be something you guys think of or would like to be part of?
GIBBONS:This idea is quite enticing since we’re constantly running casting possibilities. Maybe Matt Damon could play Frank, Liev Schreiber could play Dusty. Can’t figure out who’d be “The BFG” yet … maybe Kiefer Sutherland would take a shot. It’s all about who’d survive an 80 city tour. Then again ...
HULICK:You will be doing an outdoor show at Seneca Allegany Casino with Jeff Beck on Aug. 29. Do you have a connection to the Western New York area like Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Ellicottville or Salamanca, where you will be doing your show?
GIBBONS:Of course, we’ve played the region many times over the course of four plus decades. We’re fixated by the falls, yet we’ve yet to convince Dusty to go over in a barrel. The whole region is very scenic, to be sure, and we certainly enjoy it, especially at this time of year.
HULICK:You know I have to bring up the beards. There is such a stigma attached to these chest long locks of hair, and I read a couple quotes that you made about them along the way that really cracked me up. One being, “We’re too ugly without ‘em,” and the other in response to why you declined to shave them off, even when Gillette offered you and Dusty Hill one million dollars each to do so, which was …”Seeing oneself in the mirror clean-shaven is too close to a Vincent Price film.” You do know that is dating you and me both because I got the Vincent Price film comparison, right?
GIBBONS:Right but we’re cool about it. Old movies are a staple of our viewing when aboard our motor coaches. The buses go forward and the time rolls backwards. It’s how we maintain equilibrium in the time/space continuum.
HULICK:Do you have a message to your fans that will be coming out Aug. 29?
GIBBONS:Get on out to our show and bring the party because we’re ready to turn it way up!
Tickets to the performances by ZZ Top and Jeff Beck at Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca start at $25 and can be purchased through www.senecacasinos.com
(click on Seneca Allegany) or any Ticketmaster outlet.