“That Little Ol’ Band From Texas” has been at it for well over a half century, delivering rock, blues and boogie on the road and in the studio to millions of devoted fans. With iconography as distinctive as their sound, ZZ TOP is virtually synonymous with beards, hotrod cars, spinning guitars and that magic keychain, all of which transcend geography and language.
It was in Houston in the waning days of 1969 that ZZ TOP coalesced from the core of two rival bands, Billy Gibbons’ Moving Sidewalks and Frank Beard and Dusty Hill’s American Blues. Their third album, 1973’s Tres Hombres, catapulted them to national attention with the hit “La Grange,” still one of the band’s signature pieces today. Eliminator, their 1983 album was something of a paradigm shift for ZZ TOP. Their roots blues skew was intact but added to the mix were tech-age trappings that soon found a visual outlet with such tracks as “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” on the nascent MTV. It was one of the music industry’s first albums to have been certified Diamond, far beyond Gold and Platinum and a reflection of US domestic sales exceeding 10 million units.
As a touring entity, they’ve been without peer over the past five decades, having performed before millions of fans on four continents and have been the subject of their own Grammy-nominated documentary titled That Little Ol’ Band From Texas. The band’s line-up of the bearded Gibbons and Hill and Beard, who ironically is clean shaven, remained intact for more than 50 years until Dusty’s passing. When Dusty temporarily departed the tour in the summer of 2021, it was a given that Elwood would be the perfect choice to stand in for Dusty until he could return. But Dusty’s return was not to be, and Elwood continues to handle the bass duties for the band now and into the future.
The elements that keep ZZ TOP fresh, enduring and above the transitory fray can be summed up in the three words of the band’s internal mantra: “Tone, Taste and Tenacity.”. As genuine roots musicians, they have few peers. Their influences are both the originators of the form – Muddy Waters, B.B. King, et al – as well as the British blues rockers and Jimi Hendrix who emerged the generation before ZZ’s ascendance.
They have sold hundreds of millions of records over the course of their career, have been officially designated as Heroes of The State of Texas, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (by Keith Richards, no less) and have been referenced in countless cartoons and sitcoms. They are true rock icons and, against all odds, they’re really just doing what they’ve always done. ZZ TOP abides!
Legendary rock guitarist JEFF BECK has had one of the most influential careers in rock history.
Universally acknowledged as one of the most talented and significant guitarists in the world, Beck has played alongside some of the greatest artists of rock, blues and jazz. Over the course of BECK’s distinguished 50+ music career, he has earned an incredible eight Grammy Awards, been ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time,” and been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice – once as a member of the Yardbirds and again as a solo artist. In the summer of 2016, the guitar virtuoso celebrated his 5 decades of music with an extraordinary concert at the famous Hollywood Bowl.
Beck grew up in Wallington, England and between his mother’s piano playing and the family radio tuned to everything from dance to classical; he was surrounded by music from a young age.
Beck famously replaced Eric Clapton as the Yardbirds’ lead guitarist in 1965 and later went on to form The Jeff Beck Group, which featured Rod Stewart on vocals and Ron Wood on bass. Their two albums - “Truth” (1968) and “Beck-Ola” (1969) – would become musical touchstones for hard rockers in the years to come. The constantly evolving Beck’s next move -- a power trio with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, which released “Beck, Bogert and Appice” (1973), once again shattered people’s preconceptions of what a rock guitarist was supposed to sound like.
Music has always shared space with Jeff’s love of hot rods. After the success of his groundbreaking 1975 jazz-fusion classic. “Blow By Blow” and “Wired,” Beck began devoting more time to his fleet of cars, but 1985’s “Flash” kept him in the spotlight as he earned the Best Rock Instrumental Grammy for the song “Escape.” A second Grammy came with “Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop with Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas”, and a third for “Dirty Mind” from the “You Had It Coming” album in 2001. 2009 saw the release of the platinum-selling Performing This Week… Live at Ronnie Scott’s, which earned a Grammy for “A Day In The Life”.
In June 2010, Beck paid fitting tribute to his mentor, the great Les Paul, celebrating what would have been the pioneering guitarist’s 95th birthday. But it was Beck’s astonishing 2010 solo album, Emotion & Commotion, that brought about two additional Grammy Awards; Beck was nominated in 5 categories before bringing home three: Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Hammerhead” and Best Pop Instrumental performance for “Nessun Dorma,” both from Emotion & Commotion, and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for “Imagine,” his collaboration with Herbie Hancock. His Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul album was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. In 2016 he released Loud Hailer and in 2017 Jeff Beck: Live At The Hollywood Bowl was released. A new musical collaboration with Johnny Depp, 18, was released on July 15, 2022. The 13-track album features a mix of Depp originals along with a wide range of covers that touches on everything from Celtic and Motown to John Lennon, the Beach Boys and The Velvet Underground.
“We were going to call the album ‘Kitchen Sink’ because we threw everything in it,” the two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer says with a laugh. “The only game plan we had was to play songs we like and see where they took us.”
The result is a wild roller coaster ride through different genres where hairpin juxtapositions deliver some of the album’s biggest thrills. A remarkable example comes early on when the industrial stomp of Killing Joke’s “Death And Resurrection Show” gives way to the intense heartache of Dennis Wilson’s “Time.” Each performance stands on its own, but the sharp contrast created by sequencing them together heightens the emotional impact of both songs.
The choice of those particular tracks, Beck says, reflects a pattern that played out across the entire album. “We suggested songs the other might not think of. It pushed both of us out of our comfort zones. Johnny got me excited about ‘Venus In Furs,’ and I persuaded him to try ‘Ooo Baby Baby.’ Interesting things happen when you’re open to trying something different.”