The Little Ol' Band from Texas

If you happen to find yourself overtaken by some red-hot blues boogie today, don’t panic. Chances are you’re having a purely normal reaction to ZZ Top. The Little Ol’ Band from Texas takes the stage at WinStar World Casino tonight (Saturday) for a sold-out show.

Having burst on to the scene in the early 1970s with full-throated anthems like “Tush” and “La Grange,” the trio of guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard show no sign of slowing down. They have cranked out a feast of ferocious (and funny) rockers -- “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Pearl Necklace,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and “Legs,” to name a few -- ZZ Top has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and in 2004 earned induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

WinStar Spotlight caught up with Gibbons for a round of burning questions about the group’s penchant for sunglasses and beards long enough to make a Hasidic rabbi blush.

Q: Six decades playing together is an amazing feat. How have you guys done it without killing one another?

Gibbons: We long ago decided on ZZ’s ongoing goal -- Havin’ a good time. There are the strange and unusual personal pursuits, yet we still tend to hang out with each other more than one might suspect.It's not uncommon to find us organizing radio-controlled racecars in venue parking lots on a show day. Tailgate gatherings are big on the list, as well. Break out the BBQ!

Q: How did the sunglasses start?

Gibbons: Seems that when paying big money for sunglasses, they vanish. On the other hand, if you get ‘em at the dollar store, you'll have them forever. A terrific fashion accessory and very affordable!

Q: Have you ever really wanted to lose the beard?

Gibbons: Wow! Far too frightening to contemplate. Looking in a mirror would be a scary movie we don't want to attend.

Q: What exactly is “Tush”?

Gibbons: There are three levels of luxury: they start with 'Tush.' Move up to 'Plush' and the top of the heap is 'Rico.' So the song is saying we're not looking for anything extraordinary -- just something kind of comfortable. But, of course, 'Rico' is the aspirational level.

Roy Head, the great Texas rock and roller had a B-side back in the middle ‘60s entitled 'Tush Hog.' We're letting you know this to underscore that we just didn't make this up. 'Tush' is real!

Q: Who was responsible for selecting the incredibly hot women in all the music videos from the 1980s? How did that come about?

Gibbons: The three of us and Tim Newman, the guy who directed ZZ’s videos, held the casting call and the finalists are who you see in those videos. We still stay in touch with the original ZZ gals, and some of them have brought their youngsters to our shows. It's a 'fonky' continuum. 

Q: Is there a song of yours that you were legitimately surprised became such a massive hit?

Gibbons: We were on the road during the early years and nobody had told us that 'La Grange' had become a hit. It was quite a thrill and surprise to turn on the radio and find it blasting away on all those stations.

Q: Tell me about the experience of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Gibbons: That was, surely, the apex of our collective experience.We had been at the ceremonies in earlier years to do the inducting of Howlin' Wolf, but dared not imagine that we'd be ourselves inducted. The fact that Keith Richards did the honors [inducting the band] just compounded the circumstance most positively. Too cool of a night than anybody has a right to have.

Q: What's the latest on the next studio record?

Gibbons: Should be out in the spring and it's headed into the post-production stage. Mixing, re-mixing, mastering, etc. It's loud, down and dirty, and we think you'll like it. We're also hard at work trying to come up with a title and we're open to suggestions.

Meanwhile, rock on!

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