The Top Five Billy Gibbons/ZZ Top Riffs of All Time

August 23, 2006

Even with this admirable arsenal at his command, Gibbons’ real secret weapon has always been his bandmates. Formed in 1970, ZZ Top has maintained the same lineup of Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank “Rube” Beard since day one—an impressive feat in itself. With a slew of albums—including such classics as

Tres Hombres and Fandango!, both finally available in remastered versions of the original mixes—under their belt, the boys have honed a tight musical bond that extends from stage to studio, and marks them as one of the top power trios of all time.

Tales of Gibbons’ sonic sorcery in the studio abound, but Bisarktones, recording rooms constructed from four walls of amplifiers pointing inward from all directions, and maniacal chaining together of eight Expandora distortion units aside, the Reverend Billy G’s speciality has always been putting the right note in the right place at the right time, and doing it with a tone as big as Texas.

In this edition of Lick Library, we’ll be serving up a spicy stew of song riffs and solo excerpts drawn from three of ZZ Top’s deepest and most distinctive Texas grooves. In addition, we’ll explore the connections between these straight-eighth rocker, Texas blues-rock shuffle and full-tilt boogie riffs, as each kicks the tempo up a notch from its predecessor. Chow down and rock on, y’all!

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