Rock ’n Roll’s Bearded Dynasty
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s ZZ Top in a nutshell.
Few bands have their longevity. Whole musical genres have come and gone since the band first hit the big time in the early 1970s. Barroom favorites, the Texas-based blues rockers are perhaps best known for their beards – chest-length ones worn by guitarists/vocalists Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. The third leg of the trio, drummer Frank Beard, is (almost ironically) the beardless one. The three have been recording and performing together since 1971, putting such classics as “Legs” and “Cheap Sunglasses” on the charts along the way, and earning a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, into which they were inducted in 2004.
They bring their show to The Paramount in Huntington for two nights, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16 and 17.
The ZZ Top story takes shape with the release of their debut album, aptly named “ZZ Top’s First Album.” It was not a commercial success, nor was the follow-up album, “Rio Grande Mud.” But their third album, “Tres Hombres,” put ZZ Top on the map when the single “La Grange,” about a brothel in La Grange, Texas (later the subject of the Burt Reynolds/Dolly Parton movie “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), gained widespread air play, hitting No. 41 on the Billboard magazine’s hit chart. The song achieved lasting fame when it was included at no. 74 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” list. They called it “a standard for guitarists to show off their chops.”
The days of playing empty concert halls were over, and before long, ZZ Top was playing to packed venues, growing in reputation as a hard-driving, blues/boogie band.
In 1976, a three-month break from touring turned into two years. One good thing to come out of the hiatus, though, was the beards which Gibbon and Hill sport to this day and give ZZ Top its signature look. Their return album, “Deguello,” went platinum and produced two singles, “Cheap Sunglasses” and a Sam and Dave cover, “I Thank You.”
The biggest success was yet to come with the synth-heavy “Eliminator” album, ZZ Top’s biggest commercial success. The album put two singles – “Legs” and “Gimme All Your Lovin’” – onto what seems like eternal residency in barroom jukeboxes, and earning the band recognition in the music video arena as well.
The years since have brought an oddball collection of appearances, including a Super Bowl halftime show, a NASCAR benefit and a cameo as a hillbilly band in “Back to the Future III.” Of course, the boys have also rubbed beards with the stars of the A&E television show, “Duck Dynasty.”
They bring it all – beards, killer guitar and that infectious boogie blues sound – to The Paramount, Nov. 16 and 17. Tickets are $69.50 to $125. Go to paramountny.com.