Billy Gibbons is a guitarist, lead singer and composer for the Texas blues-rock band ZZ Top. Part of his image, besides his long, flowing beard, is his Gretsch Billy Bo guitar and 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar known as Pearly Gates, along with his bass vocal range, which is considered one of the widest ranges in rock music. He is also known for using a Mexican peso coin as a guitar pick.
Billy is also known for long sessions in the NightBird Recording Studio with actors Billy Bob Thornton, J.P. Shellnutt, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Jed Leiber, Joe "Backbeat" Fazzio, and Dwight Yoakam.
But music is only part of Billy's story. He is also well known for his authentic preparations of Mexican and barbecue cuisine and is frequently a guest chef around Hollywood, California serving his famous "Renegade Guacamole."
Born William Frederick Gibbons in a suburb of Houston, Texas, Billy's dad was an orchestra leader, and concert pianist for Samuel Goldwyn at MGM Studios. When he was 13, Billy received his first electric guitar, a sunburst Gibson Melody Maker, and a Fender Champ amplifier.
While attending Warner Brothers' art school in Hollywood, California, Gibbons joined his first bands including The Saints, Billy G & the Blueflames, and The Coachmen.
By 18, Gibbons helped form a psychedelic band called the "Moving Sidewalks," which recorded several singles and one full-length album entitled Flash. He met and befriended Jimi Hendrix, who went The Tonight Show and said Billy Gibbons would be the next hot guitarist.
Gibbons formed ZZ Top in late 1969 along with bassist and vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank "Rube" Beard. Both were members of the band American Blues.
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After establishing their trademark blues-rock style, they released the aptly titled ZZ Top's First Album on London Records in 1971.
The band toured and released albums until 1977, when they took an two-and-a-half year break.
When they reunited to start recording under a new Warner Bros. contract, unknown to each other, both Billy and Dusty had grown chest-length beards that became a part of ZZ Top's image.
The band hit their commercial pinacle with the release of 1983's diamond-selling disc Eliminator; named after Gibbons' customized 1933 Ford Coupe, which was featured in three of the band's music videos. The album featured the hits "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," "TV Dinners," and "Legs."
|Billy with wife Gilligan|
In 1994, the band signed a multi-million dollar, five-disc deal with RCA Records. In 2003, a comprehensive collection of recordings from the London and Warner Bros. years entitled Chrome, Smoke & BBQ was released.
In 2004, ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
ZZ Top has the distinction of being among a very small group of bands with a 40-year-plus history while keeping its original member line-up intact.
Gibbons has a recurring role on the TV show Bones. In May 2011, it was announced that Gibbons was named as the 2012 Texas State Musician by the Texas Commission on the Arts.
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 are sold as BFG #44 via his personal website at billygibbons.com.