Origin: Houston, Texas
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Billy Gibbons is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor best known as the guitarist and lead singer for the American rock band ZZ Top. Gibbons formed ZZ Top in 1969 and they released their first album in 1971. Gibbons ranked 32nd on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Gibbons has long been one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from the blues traditions, carrying it forward in a career honored by his 2004 induction with ZZ Top into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Gibbons was born in Houston, Texas. His father was an orchestra conductor and concert pianist. A percussionist as a youth Gibbons was sent by his father to New York City to study with Tito Puente. Gibbons received his first electric guitar following his 13th birthday, and cites guitarists Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf, and all three Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie) as influences.
While attending Warner Brothers’ art school in Hollywood, California Gibbons formed his first band the Texas Psychedelic group the Moving Sidewalks inspired by The 13th Floor Elevators. Gibbons penned the band’s hit single “99th Floor,” for their 1968 album Flash. Gibbons developed a friendship with Jimi Hendrix and the band opened four dates for the Jimi Hendrix Experience on their first headlining American tour.
In 1969 Gibbons formed ZZ Top settling on bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank 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 in 1971.
Gibbons has played with a variety of artists over the years including B.B. King, Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, Les Paul, Hank Williams III, Govt. Mule, Jeff Beck and scores of others.
Gibbons joined Jeff Beck onstage at the 2009 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert for a version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.”
In 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.”
Gibbons is an avid car collector and custom car enthusiast with an extensive collection. 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.
In 2015 Gibbons released his first solo album the Afro-Cuban-flavored Perfectamundo with his group Billy Gibbons and the BFG’s. The album casts Gibbons’ formidable guitar, vocal and songwriting skills against a bracingly fresh Afro-Cuban backdrop. The guitarist’s musical anthropology is loving and loose on the album, with nods to hip-hop and funk, Stones-y rock & roll and sixties soul.
In 2018 Gibbons’ band ZZ Top toured with John Fogerty under the “Holy Grail” moniker. Fogerty had written a song with that title in which Gibbons added vocals and some guitar to it. The single was released worldwide in summer 2018.
In September, 2018 Gibbons released his second solo album The Big Bad Blues. As its title suggests the album focuses on Gibbons’ lifelong love of the blues and rock and roll, showcasing the blues influenced vocals and guitar licks that have together served as numerous hits over five decades. The 11-track album balances classic covers like “Rollin and Tumblin” and “Standing Around Crying,” along with some of Billy’s signature new blues originals.
Billy Gibbons’ Discography
The Moving Sidewalks
The Big Bad Blues (2018)
Sacramento’s K-ZAP 93.3 FM plays Billy Gibbons. All part of 50 years of Rock, Blues and More, 24-7 on our station’s stream at K-ZAP.ORG/LISTEN/