Catching Up With Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

Veteran Guitarist Hitting The Road With Lynyrd Skynyrd, Taking Retirement Advice From Keith Richards

Jeff Walker,  Entertainment Writer

With a combined 100 years of rock n' roll music between them, one of the biggest concert tours this year joins legendary bands ZZ Top and Lynryd Skynyrd, as the 'Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour' is scheduled to play large arenas from coast to coast in 2024. While Skynryd is easily the godfather of southern rock, ZZ Top on the other hand is the undisputed king of Texas roadhouse boogie. 

According to ZZ Top founding guitarist and lead singer Billy Gibbons the two bands share a kinship that dates back to the early 1970's, and although they embrace slightly different genres they pull from the same styles of music. aaaaaaaabillygibbons4

"ZZ and Skynyrd enjoy holding onto a similar series of inspirations founded around what we stand with, the sounds of country, gospel, hillbilly, and blues. Those are the simple roots which are still heard as a big part of the experience between our outfits."

Gibbons formed personal relationships with several of Skynryd band members over the years, taking part in a tribute to guitarist and founding member Gary Rossington after his passing (March) last year. He admits the salute was humbling.

"Gary was the last of the breed. He was a true guiding spirit which remains a strident thread within the group." Gibbons adds, "'Heroic' is a term that comes to mind."

It's not surprising that critics and fans agree that ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd are two of the best bands when it comes to performing live. With each band celebrating more than five decades on the road, Gibbons claims they've crossed paths several times.

"Yes, we’ve shared stages and microphones with them over the years." Regarding the two co-headlining Gibbons simply declares "Two words, stay tuned."

Gibbons admits to embracing all Skynryd has to offer from their arsenal of songs, however there is one he admits he never tires of. "Their 'Gimme Three Steps' is the one we can hear over and over again."

While ZZ Top hit their stride in the 80's with the MTV generation eating up 'Legs', 'Sharp Dressed Man', and 'Gimme All Your Lovin', it was a handful of tongue & cheek, hard rocking blues infused Texas boogie tracks that kept them at the forefront of rock n' roll during their heyday. Among their fan favorites include 'Just Got Paid', 'I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide', 'La Grange', 'Tush', 'Pearl Necklace' and 'Cheap Sunglasses'.

As far as ZZ Top's own catalog Gibbons has personal favorites, and they aren't the traditional radio hits or songs that receive as much airplay. "The one fave ZZ number is actually two. 'Waitin’ For The Bus' and 'Jesus Just Left Chicago'. They go together like peanut butter and jelly."

Gibbons explains there's a unique twist to the  history of the songs. "The back story, there was an error when the album on which they appeared in sequence (side, 1, tracks 1 and 2 of Tres Hombres) were mastered. The space between the tracks was mistakenly left out, so they ran together and ever since we perform it as a medley. It was meant to be!" Great performed live. aaaaaaaabillygibbons1

Although he's been fronting ZZ Top since the early 70's, Gibbons has found time to push his own band BFG (his initials) between tours with ZZ Top. He embraces the variation between the two bands, but admits there is one common denominator.

"Different players equal different sounds. The notion of a different approach brings forth some really interesting exchanges. The good news is both outlets keep progressing with one foot in the blues." 2021's 'Hardware' is the third and most recent solo studio album from Gibbons.

Hitting the road year after year since 1971 Gibbons admits he has no plans to cool his jets. He recalls taking retirement advice from legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. "I think it was along the lines of “What else would we be doing that would be as much fun?” The Stones have been at it over 60 years, so Keith and Mick Jagger must know something.

15 studio albums to their credit (a majority of them coming out in the 70's & 80's), four live albums, and seven compilations, ZZ Top's last studio release was 2012's 'La Futura'. With the passing of long time bassist and founding member Dusty Hill in 2021, Gibbons says anything new from ZZ has more to do with guitar tech Elwood Francis taking Hill's spot on stage. aaaaaaaabillygibbons3

"That elusive 'something new' from ZZ Top is going on now. With the injection of Elwood’s bottom of the top creations, the raunch of the raw keeps the band’s identity moving forward." 

Steadfast ZZ Top fans might want to pick up the recent soundtrack to the Grammy nominated 'That Little Ol' Band From Texas' which includes 'La Grange' and 'Brown Sugar'. An awesome addition to any ZZ Top collection. 

While Gibbons has spent quality time in the recording studio with ZZ and BFG projects, he favors the concert stage. "We certainly recently spent a bit more time on stage than in the studio so let’s continue aiming toward 'vox popular' (voice of the people) in a manner of speaking." For the sake of diehard fans Gibbons adds, "Rock on…!" aaaaaaaabillygibbonstour

For admirers of ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd who live in the Carolinas and Georgia you can catch them as the 'Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour' March 8th in Savannah Ga at Enmarket Arena, March 14th in Greenville SC at Bon Secours Arena, and March 16th in Columbia SC at Colonial Life Arena. They return to play Greensboro NC on March 29th. Hard rockin' southern rock post grunge band Black Stone Cherry will open the shows. An ideal triple threat concert.

For more on their cross country tour visit