Billy Gibbons

William Frederick Gibbons (born December 16, 1949)[1] is an American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor, best known as the guitarist and lead singer of American rock band ZZ Top. He began his career in the Moving Sidewalks, who recorded Flash (1968) and opened four dates for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969 and released ZZ Top's First Album in 1971.

Gibbons has made appearances with other artists and acted on television shows, most notably Bones. He was ranked at number 32 on the 2011 Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[2]

Billy Gibbons
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performing in San Antonio, Texas 2015
Gibbons in 2015
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Frederick Gibbons
BornDecember 16, 1949 (age 69)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • actor
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1967–present
Associated acts
WebsiteThe Official Website of Billy F Gibbons

Early life

Gibbons was born to Frederick Royal ("Freddie") and Lorraine (née Duffy) Gibbons in the Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston, Texas. His father was an entertainer, orchestra conductor, and concert pianist who worked alongside his second cousin, art director Cedric Gibbons, for Samuel Goldwyn at MGM Studios. A percussionist as a youth, Gibbons was sent by his father to New York City to study with Tito Puente.[3] In 1963, Gibbons received his first electric guitar following his 13th birthday, a sunburst Gibson Melody Maker, accompanied by a Fender Champ amplifier, and was influenced by guitarists such as Jimmy Reed.

While attending Warner Brothers' art school in Hollywood, California, Gibbons engaged with his first bands including The Saints, Billy G & the Blueflames, and The Coachmen. By 18, Gibbons went forward forming an artfully designed band, conceptually inspired by friend and fellow musician, Roky Erickson and The 13th Floor Elevators, naming the group the Moving Sidewalks, penning the hit single "99th Floor", and engaging in a friendship with Jimi Hendrix.[4][5]

Musical career

Moving Sidewalks

Gibbons founded the Texas psychedelic group The Moving Sidewalks,[6] which recorded several singles and one full-length album, Flash. Gibbons and The Moving Sidewalks came to prominence opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience during Hendrix's first American tour as a headliner. Also notable was the Gibbons-penned song, "99th Floor," its title a nod to the influence on Gibbons of fellow Texans and pioneering psychedelic band The 13th Floor Elevators. He has also commented during live performances while playing the string-bending intro to "Foxy Lady" that Hendrix taught him how to play when Gibbons was "about 17" in Dallas.[7]

ZZ Top

Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969, and quickly settled on bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank "Rube" Beard, both being members of the band American Blues. After honing their trademark blues-rock style, they released the aptly-titled ZZ Top's First Album on London Records in 1971.

Billy Gibbons 12 7 13 Alamodome
Billy Gibbons at The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas 12/7/13, private function

Other music-related appearances

Gibbons played the first slide guitar lead on the song "Dead End Streets" on Al Jourgensen of Ministry's side project Revolting Cocks album Cocked and Loaded.

He wrote, played guitar on and sang "Willin' For Satisfaction" from Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell's 2005 solo album Two Sides Of If.

Gibbons collaborated with the Queens of the Stone Age on the song "Burn the Witch" from the album Lullabies to Paralyze. ZZ Top's "Precious and Grace" was recorded with lead vocals provided by Mark Lanegan as a bonus track for the album. Gibbons has claimed this was one of his favorite collaborations and "Precious and Grace" was later added back into ZZ Top's set lists. Gibbons was selected to guest the follow-up album Era Vulgaris but was unable due to scheduling conflicts.[8]

Together with The Raconteurs Gibbons performed at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards. Gibbons was part of an ensemble chosen to play with the band, which included Lou Reed and Jim Jarmusch. The performance was heavily edited and cut short by MTV for broadcast.

Gibbons was one of several artists to join B.B. King on the song "Tired Of Your Jive," from the B.B. King & Friends album.

Gibbons appeared on Nickelback's album All the Right Reasons on the songs "Follow You Home," "Fight for All the Wrong Reasons" and "Rockstar."

Gibbons performed with Hank Williams III on the song "Trashville," from his album Lovesick, Broke and Driftin'.

Gibbons collaborated with Les Paul with his Les Paul & Friends American Made, World Played track "Bad Case of Loving You." Gibbons also performed guitar with John Mayall & Friends' track "Put It Right Back" from the album Along for the Ride. He was the first artist to appear on stage at Cleveland's State theater in November 2008 at the American Music Master Tribute to Les Paul, honoring the guitar and recording innovator, who died a few months later.

Gibbons was a guest vocalist on Kid Rock's "Hillbilly Stomp" from the album Kid Rock.

He was the guitarist during singer Luis Fonsi's presentation at the 7th Latin Grammy awards held in Madison Square Garden, New York, on November 2, 2006.

Lately Gibbons sang background vocals on Sammy Hagar's 2008 CD Cosmic Universal Fashion during the song "Switch on the Light."

Gibbons collaborated with Ronnie Dunn, of Brooks & Dunn fame, for Dunn's first solo work, playing guitar and singing along on the song, "Honky Tonk Stomp".

Gibbons played guitar on "Broke Down On the Brazos", the opening track of Gov't Mule's 2009 album By a Thread.

Gibbons played guitar on "Run Rudolph Run", the third track of We Wish you a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year compilation.

Gibbons joined Jeff Beck onstage at the 2009 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert with a version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady".

Gibbons made a special guest appearance behind Roky Erickson on Austin City Limits taped on November 12, 2007 and originally aired January 12, 2008. (ACL Season 33, Episode 12).

Gibbons plays lead guitar on two songs from the 2008 Everlast album Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford: "Stone in My Hand" and "Anyone".

On January 22, 2010, Gibbons joined Ben Harper, Jeff Beck, Conan O'Brien and others on the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien playing a Will Ferrell-led rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird".[9]

On February 19, 2011, Gibbons appeared as a guest judge at the 5th Annual Misprint Beard and Moustache Contest at the Mohawk Club in Austin, Texas.[10]

On December 15, 2012, Gibbons made a guest appearance at Social Distortion's concert at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Frontman Mike Ness brought him out for two songs, "Drug Train" and "Black Magic". On November 19, 2014, Gibbons performed "Baby Please Don't Go" at the Vaclav Havel bust dedication ceremony in the US capitol.

On July 31, 2015 it was announced that Gibbons' solo project will be named Billy Gibbons and the BFG's featuring musicians Mike Flanigin, GG Maartine (née Martine GuiGui), Joe Hardy and Greg Morrow. Their debut album, Perfectamundo, was released on November 6, 2015.[11][12]

Gibbons' second solo album, The Big Bad Blues was released on September 21, 2018 via Concord Records [13]

Other projects


Gibbons had a recurring role on the Fox network TV series Bones, appearing in seven episodes over nine years. He plays a fictionalized version of himself, as the father of Michaela Conlin's character, Angela Pearly Gates Montenegro.[14] He is never referred to by name on the show, though; every mention is limited to "Angela's father". Conlin's character's middle name is the same as Gibbons' Les Paul guitar. Gibbons's character is extremely protective of his daughter, and he often "threatens" or "haunts" Angela's husband and colleague Dr. Jack Hodgins, telling him that if he hurts Angela, he will pay. When Angela and Hodgins first broke up, he drugged and kidnapped Hodgins, during which time he also gave him a tattoo of Angela's face on his left deltoid area. After Angela discovers the tattoo, she informs Hodgins she wants it removed (he never removed it) and angrily exclaimed when she discovered it was her dad's doing, "I am so going to kick his Texan bad ass".

He has appeared in several other episodes of Bones, including one where he asks Hodgins to help him recover his car from some "biker hoods". In his next appearance, he argued with Hodgins over baby names. He wanted the child to be named "Staccato Mamba", which came to him in a song, while Angela and Hodgins wanted to name him "Michael Joseph". (Parents and grandfather compromised on "Michael Staccato".)[15] At the end of the episode, Hodgins discovers he has yet another tattoo on his right biceps, this time of his father-in-law with the word "Daddy" across Gibbons' beard (at which point Gibbons told Hodgins that celebratory tequila and he do not seem to mix). In a later episode, he asks to babysit his grandson Michael, pointing out that Angela had spent many nights when she was a baby sleeping soundly backstage while he played to sold-out stadiums. After initial reluctance of Angela and Hodgins, they agree due to the need to get some sleep, as Michael will not stop crying and go to sleep. Gibbons solves the problem by discovering the music Michael likes, including blues and boogie rock, such as ZZ Top's "Hi Fi Mama".

Gibbons voiced a character in episode 60 of Metalocalypse.

Gibbons also voiced a fictionalised version of himself in Fox's animated show King of the Hill which is set in the fictional town of Arlen, Texas. ZZ Top's appearance on the show was due to Dusty Hill being given the role as the cousin of the show's main character Hank Hill. Frank Beard also voiced himself for the band's appearances on the show.

Gibbons appeared as a dining room guest in the season-13 episode of Hell's Kitchen.

BFG Brand sauces

In 2011, Gibbons joined with Texas-based Mojo Products, LLC, to launch a line of hot sauces, barbecue sauces, and other products with his own personal branding, "BFG Brand". The sauces were sold as BFG No. 44 via his personal website.

In late 2012, Gibbons was featured in a series of television commercials for Fiesta Mart, a Texas supermarket chain. Some of the BFG Brand sauces were seen in these commercials.

In 2018 Billy Gibbons has teamed up with John Fogerty, the two guitar players are planning a summer tour under the "Holy Grail" title. John Fogerty wrote a song with the title "Holy Grail" which Gibbons has appeared on, adding his vocals and some guitar, Billy had this to say to 'Billboard Magazine': " "It's not an overstatement to say that writing a song with John Fogerty is a genuine bonus. It's fair to say that John and I are both pumped about our collaboration and we think this new one called 'Holy Grail' holds true with some great storytelling and some solid guitarist movin' the number right along. It begs a shout of, 'Turn it up!'" Fogerty is releasing a new album, and the collaboration is attracting some attention from the classic rock community. The new single "Holy Grail" is due for worldwide release on June 8th 2018.

Personal life

On December 14, 2005, Gibbons married long-time girlfriend Gilligan Stillwater (born Ellen J. Oetjen).[16]

Gibbons is an avid car collector and custom car enthusiast with an extensive collection that includes a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 (known as CadZZilla), a 1962 Chevrolet Impala (known as "Slampala"), a 1950 Ford Business Coupe, and a 1958 Ford Thunderbird.[17] One of his earliest custom cars, a 1933 Ford Coupe (known as "Eliminator"), was featured in three of ZZ Top's music videos and is also on the cover of their 1983 album, also titled Eliminator. Gibbons also published a book in 2011 about his love of cars and guitars titled Billy F Gibbons: Rock + Roll Gearhead.[18] The November 2014 issue of Guitar World magazine featured an interview with Gibbons and fellow guitarist Jeff Beck about their mutual appreciation of "cars, guitars, and everything in between".[19]

For several years, Gibbons has appeared wearing a braided-cloth cap rather than his familiar Stetson hat. During a visit to Vienna, he met the chief of the Bamileke people from Cameroon, with whom he traded the hat for the cap.[20]


The Moving Sidewalks


Guest singles

Year Single Artist Peak chart
US Country US
2009 "Honky Tonk Stomp" Brooks & Dunn 16 96 #1s… and Then Some

Music videos

Year Video Director
2009 "Honky Tonk Stomp" (with Brooks & Dunn) Thein Phan
2015 "Treat Her Right"[21] Adam Rothlein

See also


  1. ^ "Happy Birthday, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top!". MTV. December 16, 2010.
  2. ^ "100 Greatest Guitarists". Retrieved January 3, 2005.
  3. ^ Russel, K.F. (1997). "ZZ Top". Rhythm Music Magazine. 6. into Afro-Caribbean rhythms as a youth when his father sent him to New York to study percussion with Tito Puente.
  4. ^ "Texas Monthly Talks". KLRU. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Jasinski, Laurie E. "ROCK-AND-ROLL". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  6. ^ Chest, Lance (June 9, 2005). "ZZ Top Is Zee Tops! (Why ZZ Top is the World's Greatest Band!)". Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  7. ^ "ZZ TOP - Foxy Lady". YouTube. 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2014-06-14.
  8. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (April 13, 2007). "Reznor Guest Spot Adds Mystery To QOTSA Album". News > Articles. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
  9. ^ Kreps, Daniel (January 23, 2010). "Conan O'Brien Recruits Will Ferrell, Beck for Final Episode "Free Bird"". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  10. ^ "5th Annual Beard and Moustache Contest Results and Wrap-up". Misprint Magazine. Archived from the original on August 20, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  11. ^ "Perfectomundo' - Billy Gibbons and the BFG's". iTunes. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  12. ^ "Billy Gibbons: Pursuit of 'Perfectamundo'". Retrieved 2016-10-03.
  14. ^ Owen, Rob (April 4, 2014). "TV Q&A: 'Bones,' 'GMA' and various local news anchors who dared to take vacation time". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  15. ^ Peterson, Michael. Bones, "The Killer in the Crosshairs," first aired March 10, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  16. ^ Texas Marriage Index, 1966-2011.
  17. ^ Staff. "The 20 Biggest Celebrity Car Collectors". Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  18. ^ Gibbons, Billy F.; Vickers, Tom; Photography: Perry, David (2011). Billy F. Gibbons : rock + roll gearhead (Softcover ed.). Minneapolis, MN: MBI Pub. ISBN 978-0760340301. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  19. ^ Tolinski, Brad (2014-09-15). "Jeff Beck and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons Discuss the Rocking Relationship Between Guitars, Cars and Everything in Between". Guitar World (November). Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  20. ^ Hillary Alexander (September 16, 2008). "ZZ Top: Billy Gibbons interview". The Telegraph.
  21. ^ "CMT : Videos : Billy Gibbons : Treat Her Right". Country Music Television. Retrieved November 11, 2015.

External links

Antenna (ZZ Top album)

Antenna is the eleventh studio album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1994. It was the band's first album to be released on the RCA label. It was also the first time ZZ Top had a song with the album title in its name ("Antenna Head"). The opening track and first single from the album, "Pincushion", reached #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the US.

Cheap Sunglasses

"Cheap Sunglasses" is a 1980 single by ZZ Top from their 1979 album Degüello. It is one of their most famous songs and includes the use of some odd instruments. The song captures many of the sounds and beats for which ZZ Top is famous. It is also featured on the greatest hits collections ZZ Top's Greatest Hits, Chrome, Smoke & BBQ, and Rancho Texicano. In addition, a live version of the song appears on Chrome, Smoke & BBQ and Rancho Texicano. The rap duo EPMD sampled "Cheap Sunglasses" on their song "You're a Customer" (which appears on their 1988 debut album Strictly Business).

In a Guitar World article, lead guitarist Billy Gibbons said that he used a Marshall Major amplifier and a Maestro ring modulator on this song, and that the amplifier had a blown tube during recording which added to the tonal character of the song.[1] The Marshall Major is a slightly taller, 200-watt version of the classic Marshall 100-watt head.

Doubleback (song)

"Doubleback" is a song by ZZ Top from their album Recycler, which was featured in the film Back to the Future Part III. The band had a cameo in the movie playing a hillbilly music version of the song along with some local musicians. The regular version of the song plays over the credits.

"Doubleback" reached #1 on the Album Rock Tracks for 5 weeks. It was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award in 1990 for "Best Video from a Film." The song was also featured in Back to the Future: The Pinball.

The song was produced by band manager Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning.

Got Me Under Pressure

"Got Me Under Pressure" is a song by ZZ Top from their 1983 album Eliminator. The song was produced by band manager Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning. David Blayney (ZZ Top's stage manager of 15 years), in his book Sharp Dressed Men described how the song was pre-produced: Billy Gibbons and Linden Hudson (Houston engineer and songwriter) wrote the whole song and created a recorded demo all in one afternoon without either Dusty Hill (ZZ Top bass player) or Frank Beard (ZZ Top drummer) even knowing about it. Linden created the bass on a synthesizer, created drums on a drum machine and helped Billy Gibbons write the lyrics; Billy performed the guitars and vocals.

Leila (song)

"Leila" is a song by American rock band ZZ Top, from their 1981 album El Loco.

The song is a ballad with blues rock influences.

Mescalero (album)

Mescalero is the fourteenth studio album by the American rock band ZZ Top. It was released in September 2003, as the band's final release for RCA Records. While the band still retained their foundation in blues rock, Mescalero explored genres like country and Tejano. Recording sessions took place at Foam Box Recordings in Houston, with Billy Gibbons as producer.

My Head's in Mississippi

"My Head's In Mississippi" is a song by ZZ Top from their album Recycler The song was produced by band manager Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning. In December 1990, the song reached number one on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.

Pearl Necklace (song)

"Pearl Necklace" is a song by ZZ Top from their 1981 album El Loco. The song went to No. 28 on the Billboard Rock Tracks chart in 1981.

"Pearl Necklace" was produced by Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning.

Pincushion (song)

"Pincushion" is a song by rock band ZZ Top, released from their 1994 album, Antenna. The song spent four weeks at the top of the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and became a pop hit in the UK as well, peaking at #15 on the UK Singles Chart.


Rhythmeen is the twelfth studio album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1996. It is the first ZZ Top album to have a title track, which is the first track on the album (though Antenna featured a song called "Antenna Head"). It is also the last album with longtime producer, Bill Ham.

Rough Boy

"Rough Boy" was the third single by American rock band ZZ Top from their 1985 album Afterburner. The song reached No. 5 on the Album Rock Tracks chart and No. 22 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as No. 23 in the UK Top 40. Unlike the other songs on the album, this song has a much slower tempo and is more of a power ballad. It also shares a similar, though much slower, tune to their song "Leila" from their album El Loco.

Sharp Dressed Man

"Sharp Dressed Man" is a song performed by ZZ Top from their 1983 album Eliminator. The song was produced by band manager Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning. Pre-production recording engineer Linden Hudson was very involved in the early stages of this song's production.At 2007's VH1 Rock Honors, Nickelback covered the song as a tribute (Billy Gibbons had earlier made a guest appearance on Nickelback's own song "Rockstar" & "Follow You Home"). ZZ Top played this song at halftime of the 2008 Orange Bowl college football bowl game.

She's Just Killing Me

"She's Just Killing Me" is a song by rock band ZZ Top, released as the first single from their 1996 album, Rhythmeen. The song is featured in the film From Dusk till Dawn and on its soundtrack, which also includes "Mexican Blackbird" from the 1975 album Fandango!.

Stages (song)

"Stages" is a song by American rock band ZZ Top. It was released as the second single from their ninth studio album Afterburner (1985). It peaked at number 21 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for two weeks.

TV Dinners (song)

"TV Dinners" is a song performed by American band ZZ Top from their 1983 album Eliminator. It was produced by band manager Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning. The song is a simple, beat-driven tune with lyrics about pre-packaged, oven-ready meals. Released as a single, it reached #38 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart. Robert Palmer recorded "TV Dinners" for his studio album 2003 Drive.

Tube Snake Boogie

"Tube Snake Boogie" is a song by American rock band ZZ Top from their 1981 album El Loco. It was released as a single the same year and reached #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.While the lyrics seem to imply sexual innuendo or double entendre, in the liner notes for the band's 1992 Greatest Hits album, it is explained that "'tube snake' is gnarly lingo for a surfboard, or 'boogie board.' Either way, it's good clean fun." However, this claim of surfing belies the lyrical content clearly indicating that the 'boogieing' is done at night.

The song was produced by Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning.

Velcro Fly

"Velcro Fly" is the fourth single off ZZ Top's 1985 album Afterburner. The song peaked at #15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.

A 12" version is featured on the box set Chrome, Smoke & BBQ.

XXX (ZZ Top album)

XXX is the thirteenth studio album by the American blues rock band ZZ Top, released in 1999. The album's title is a reference to it being thirty years since the band was formed. The live track, "Sinpusher", is an altered version of their 1994 song "Pincushion" with different lyrics and a slightly heavier guitar riff. The album peaked at number 100 on the Billboard 200. It was their first album without Bill Ham at the helm as producer.

ZZ Top

ZZ Top is an American rock band formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The band has, since 1970, consisted of vocalist/guitarist Billy Gibbons (the band's leader, main lyricist and musical arranger), bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. "As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers", according to critic Michael "Cub" Koda. "Gibbons is one of America's finest blues guitarists working in the arena rock idiom [...] while Hill and Beard provide the ultimate rhythm section support."The band released its first album—called ZZ Top's First Album—in 1971. Beginning with blues-inspired rock, the trio later incorporated new wave, punk rock and dance-rock by using synthesizers. Their songs have a reputation for containing humorous lyrics laced with double entendres and innuendo.

The band's top-selling album is their 1983 release Eliminator, which sold more than 10 million copies in the United States. Total record sales of 25 million place ZZ Top among the top-100-selling artists in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. That includes 11 gold, seven platinum and three multi-platinum albums as of 2016, according to the RIAA. By 2014, ZZ Top had sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

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