ZZ Top, also known as "That Little Ol' Band from Texas” began when Houston TX native Billy Gibbons (guitar) of the psychedelic band The Moving Sidewalks joined forces with Dallasites Frank Beard (drums) and Dusty Hill (bass) of the rival band, American Blues.
ZZ Top’s first two albums were popular in Texas but failed to receive mainstream attention. Radio stations in Southeast Texas gave ZZ Top airtime when larger stations in Houston and Dallas would not play their music. The band also played many of their early gigs in the Beaumont area.
ZZ Top opened for the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour and became nationally known with “Tres Hombres” in 1973. "La Grange" was a top 40 hit, and Tres Hombres went platinum.
Their fourth album, Tejas (1976) spawned ZZ Top's Worldwide Texas Tour: Takin' Texas To The People featured a Texas-shaped stage, rattlesnakes, a 2,000 lb. black buffalo, buzzards, and cactus. At the time it was the largest tour in rock history, playing nearly one hundred major stages in the U.S., Europe, England, Australia, Mexico, and Japan.
In the early 1980s Gibbons built his now-famous Hot Rod, Eliminator. The 1933 Ford Coupe was used to launch the albums Eliminator (1983) and Afterburner (1985). The use of synthesizers and music videos on MTV propelled ZZ Top into international superstardom as bearded bad boys in cheap sunglasses.
The group abandoned the synthesized sound and returned to their roots with RCA and their 1994 release, Antenna, followed by One Foot in the Blues (1994) and Rhythmeen (1996). XXX, released in 1999, marked the band's thirty-year career milestone. After two world tours, they released Mescalero (2003) and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
ZZ Top has continued to tour, release albums, and make broadcast appearances when they felt inspired to do so. They were inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast, Music Hall of Fame in 1998.