Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man
July 29, 2021 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Dusty Hill, bassist for and long-time member of ZZ Top, has passed away at the age of 72.

Dusty joined ZZ Top a year after its original formation and played on all fifteen studio albums. In addition to his well-known bass work, he played keyboards and provided both backing and lead vocals. Along with his bandmates, he'd appeared in Back to the Future III; he'd also had a stand-alone appearance as Hank Hill's "cousin Dusty" on King of the Hill.
posted by hanov3r (96 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by 20 year lurk at 8:22 AM on July 29


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posted by riruro at 8:23 AM on July 29


a buddy with much better music sense than me attended a ZZ Top concert in the early 2000s and he brought an album along to get it signed, I forget who he approached but the band member looked disgusted/offended and said it was the band's worst album. I wish my memory was better and I told better stories. No real attachment to the band's music but a few of their videos were on heavy rotation during Video Hits in the 80s.
posted by elkevelvet at 8:23 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


He had a beard, and he knew how to use it....
posted by chavenet at 8:25 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]


For an MTV obsessed Gen-Xer, there was no band cooler than ZZ-Top. The car, the girls, the furry guitars that spun, the videos, the beards. They were amazing. I know ZZ-Top's catalog is a lot more extensive than Eliminator but 1980s ZZ-Top was the ZZ-Top a lot of us were introduced to.

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posted by bondcliff at 8:26 AM on July 29 [19 favorites]


There's a great anecdote in the NYT obituary:
In 1976, after a string of hit albums and nearly seven years of constant touring, the band took a three-year hiatus. Mr. Hill returned to Dallas, where he worked at the airport and tried to avoid being identified by fans.

“I had a short beard, regular length, and if you take off the hat and shades and wear work clothes and put ‘Joe’ on my work shirt, people are not expecting to see you,” he said in a 2019 interview. “Now, a couple of times, a couple of people did ask me, and I just lied, and I said: ‘No! Do you think I’d be sitting here?’”
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posted by fedward at 8:27 AM on July 29 [34 favorites]


ZZ Top is so good people seem to take them for granted. Long before Legs and Sharp Dressed Man they made heavy and weirdly intricate rock that stood in its own stable. Dusty was a tremendously solid bass player.
posted by Liquidwolf at 8:29 AM on July 29 [15 favorites]


He was also a member of The Zombies , the not the real ones who did "Time of the Season", the fake ones who toured the US as the real ones and played blues numbers after playing "Time of the Season".
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:32 AM on July 29 [14 favorites]


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posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 8:32 AM on July 29


My 'ZZ' replica Eliminator keyfob was pointy and sharp and blew out more than one jeans pocket. It was also very cheap chrome and it flaked off in no time. Still miss it though. I've seen the boys twice and they were always a reliably entertaining show.
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posted by dragstroke at 8:33 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Netflix's documentary, "ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas", is definitely worth watching if you're a subscriber.

I was lucky enough to get floor seats near the front row at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD, when they toured to support Afterburner. In my mind, that's still one of the best stage shows I've ever seen, 35 years later.
posted by hanov3r at 8:36 AM on July 29 [8 favorites]


ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band from Texas, available on Netflix, is a fun and chill 90 minutes of rock documentary.

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posted by Caxton1476 at 8:37 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Also Paula Abdul choreographed the video for Velcro Fly which matches Spinal Tap in..something... and Van Halen in 'dudes that can't synchronize their dance movements' in a video. Check Hill's awesome moves while keyboarding!
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:41 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


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posted by Lyme Drop at 8:41 AM on July 29


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posted by Faint of Butt at 8:45 AM on July 29


I had Eliminator on 8 track. That is all.

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posted by Splunge at 8:45 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


In 1974, ZZ Top played a show at the University of Texas' Memorial Stadium (which at the time had a capacity of about 70,000, I think). The stadium was filled beyond capacity and was trashed. There wasn't another concert there until 1995.

It must have been a hell of a show.
posted by adamrice at 8:47 AM on July 29 [12 favorites]


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posted by panglos at 8:47 AM on July 29


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posted by eclectist at 8:51 AM on July 29


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Hell of a bass player. Great singer too. Not just their music, but the photograph on the inner gatefold of Tres Hombres had a profound effect on me as a rockin' youth.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 8:53 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


I tend to prefer ZZ Top’s pre-MTV output (I was listening to Tejas, Tres Hombres, and Fandango all day yesterday) but their later stuff is good too. Now I am really glad I saw them on their 50th anniversary tour in 2019.

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posted by TedW at 8:55 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


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posted by doctornemo at 8:58 AM on July 29


the photograph on the inner gatefold of Tres Hombres had a profound effect on me as a rockin' youth.

Have you seen this story about recreating that shot?
posted by TedW at 8:59 AM on July 29 [9 favorites]


Always enjoyed ZZ Top's music. But I will always think of them in connection with Simpsons episode "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday" where the opening of Legs is used for a parody Super Bowl ad for the Catholic Church that was removed from repeat airings of the episode.



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posted by nubs at 8:59 AM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Godspeed, Dusty. May you tool around in the Eliminator in Rock N Roll heaven.

I have tickets for a ZZ Top show with Cheap Trick, delayed at least twice because of Covid. I am/was really looking forward to that...
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:13 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Heard about this just this morning. Sad.

Interestingly (to me, anyway) I saw ZZ Top wayyyy back in high school. Like '74 or '75? Heck of a show. Over the weekend, my son, daughter-in-law, and her dad all went and saw ZZ Top at a county fair here in Indiana. Hill wasn't with them. He had been sent home because he was apparently in bad shape.

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posted by Thorzdad at 9:13 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


TedW, thanks for linking that article/video, a fitting tribute

Now I'm hungry
posted by SystematicAbuse at 9:15 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


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posted by Silverstone at 9:16 AM on July 29



posted by Gelatin at 9:22 AM on July 29


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Let's not forgot that he's also Hank Hill's cousin.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:23 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Whoops, missed that it was below the fold. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:24 AM on July 29


“Every girl’s crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man.”


…and some of the boys, too.

As a gay boy in the mid-80s, I wasn’t exactly ZZ Topp’s target demographic. A lot of the content and imagery of their songs and videos just didn’t land right for me. But the guy cast to play the titular “Sharp Dressed Man” in the video definitely caught my 16-year-old attention every time the video came on MTV. Peter Tramm, the blonde dancer and model, was also Kevin Bacon’s dance double in Footloose.

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for Dusty Hill, and

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also for Peter Tramm, who passed away very young in 1991.
posted by darkstar at 9:29 AM on July 29 [11 favorites]


Paula Abdul choreographed the video for Velcro Fly yt

I am sure she did her best.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:40 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


She's Just Killing Me off the From Dusk Til Dawn soundtrack is a late career highlight. Rocks impossibly hard, like someone tried to play them grunge and they decided to demonstrate what was up.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:42 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


In 1974, ZZ Top played a show at the University of Texas' Memorial Stadium (which at the time had a capacity of about 70,000, I think). The stadium was filled beyond capacity and was trashed. There wasn't another concert there until 1995.

I wonder if that was an Eagles reunion tour show? My college dorm was right next to the stadium and I specifically remember sitting in my room one evening and listening to the music as it wafted through my open window. The timeframe seems to fit.

As for ZZ Top, my main memory is becoming fixated on the album cover of my sister's vinyl copy of Eliminator. I would often try recreating it from memory on scratch sheets of notebook paper and at some point I even won 2nd place in the classroom art show with a shameless forgery of that image.

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posted by Atom Eyes at 9:49 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


But yes, Hill was a great, underappreciated bass player. When I was a kid, well before there was an inexplicable and unforeseeable collision of ZZ Top, new wave, and a 1933 Ford coupe, I thought Tush kicked much ass (as it were). I’ve played it onstage a few times and it seems I am not alone on this assessment. I am neither the best bassist in the world nor the best singer, but then again, neither was he: I think I did Hill justice.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:50 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


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posted by JoeXIII007 at 9:54 AM on July 29


He had a beard, and he knew how to use it....

I always wondered if the beards were fake, so they could go out in public with less hassle.
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posted by Bee'sWing at 9:56 AM on July 29


I always wondered if the beards were fake, so they could go out in public with less hassle.

Beard, glasses, hat: easiest band in the world to cosplay as. I mean, I suppose Kiss and Gwar and Devo and The Residents are just as distinctive, but there’s a lot more effort involved.

Let me rephrase that: easiest band in the world to accidentally cosplay as.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:04 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


I always wondered if the beards were fake, so they could go out in public with less hassle.

Apparently at one point Gillette offered them a whole lot of money to shave on a commercial and the boys turned them down.
posted by bondcliff at 10:10 AM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I had Eliminator on 8 track. That is all.

"chunk, chunk"
posted by thecincinnatikid at 10:15 AM on July 29 [5 favorites]


Weird. There's so much music to listen to. For the rest of my life there is going to be a significant chunk of it that I definitely enjoy but will never listen to again until one of the artists dies.

[turns up "El Diablo" a little louder]
posted by straight at 10:16 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Love their hits up to Eliminator.

I was at a BBQ in Memphis and ZZ Top was there. One of them went to the restroom so I went, too. So I peed (at an appropriately-distanced urinal) with a guy from ZZ Top. There was also a twins convention in town at the time, which was weird, but it was definitely ZZ Top.

Fun fact: Frank Beard is the only member of ZZ Top that doesn't (usually) have a beard.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:22 AM on July 29 [4 favorites]


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posted by djseafood at 10:29 AM on July 29


I was seeing some blues show at a terrible bar in Riverside, CA a couple of decades ago when Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill showed up incognito. For them this was baseball caps, sunglasses at night and their beards very awkwardly tucked into zipped up jackets.

Everyone seemed to just leave them alone, hushed whispers to each other just confirming that it was in fact them sitting at a table, but respecting the clear desire to not be bothered.

RIP Dusty.
posted by mikesch at 10:37 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


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posted by Joey Michaels at 10:37 AM on July 29


when Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill showed up incognito. For them this was baseball caps, sunglasses at night and their beards very awkwardly tucked

For, say, Green Day or Queens of the Stone Age this is incognito. For Billy and Dusty, this was highly... cognito.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:44 AM on July 29 [2 favorites]


Such fond memories of attending a phenomenal concert in the 80s. Great music, amazing light show, unreal crowd energy.

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posted by skye.dancer at 10:55 AM on July 29


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posted by jabo at 10:59 AM on July 29


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posted by lapolla at 11:04 AM on July 29


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posted by hap_hazard at 11:13 AM on July 29


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Listened to Tres Hombres yesterday and it's still as great as it was when I was 13.

I maybe wasn't crazy about their pivot from southern blues rock to MTV pop in the 80s but they seemed to be having a great time.
posted by octothorpe at 11:22 AM on July 29 [1 favorite]


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posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 11:23 AM on July 29


"I Gotsta Get Paid," from their latest album, is an okay song with a very ZZ Top video, but that it's a cover of this song is pretty great. Because sampling, it's the only ZZ Top song with a writing credit for Al B. Sure! [citation needed].

That same album also offers a cover of Gillian Welch's 'It's Too Easy.' It slaps. The rest of that album is original material with some cowriters, but those two songs make me wonder what they would've done if they had wanted to go full-on American Recordings on 'em.

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posted by box at 11:26 AM on July 29 [6 favorites]


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posted by jquinby at 11:31 AM on July 29


zz was second only to hall & oates in transforming their music and embracing video on mtv. quite brilliant, but lost an edge.

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posted by j_curiouser at 11:44 AM on July 29


As a Brit living in Dallas in 1993 I once wandered into the legendary Bar Of Soap laundry/bar in Exposition Park. Saw a bunch of guys with beards cut just so and jokingly told my friends later about some guys who looked just like ZZ Top.

Wandering into Forbidden Books later and told Jason about it. Turns out they weren’t lookalikes…
posted by JohnnyForeign at 12:01 PM on July 29 [5 favorites]


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posted by evilDoug at 12:15 PM on July 29


They hold the record for longest unchanged lineup for a band in the R&R Hall of Fame. Over 50 years.
posted by donpardo at 12:25 PM on July 29 [11 favorites]


A legendary band and unique enough not to have any imitators.

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posted by Beholder at 12:30 PM on July 29


Yeah, I went to high school in the '80s, I thought they were cool, but the thing that made Dusty Hill particularly cool is the story that when Frank Beard went into rehab and the band took a break, Dusty took a job as an airport baggage handler. That just sounds like someone who'd done enough introspection to know how he ticked and what he needed to learn about himself.

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posted by straw at 12:33 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Rough Boy and Stages are two (I think) under appreciated gems from the (I think) late 80s.
posted by wittgenstein at 12:36 PM on July 29


🎩
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posted by clavdivs at 12:50 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Rough Boy and Stages are two (I think) under appreciated gems from the (I think) late 80s.

The second (Stages) and third (Rough Boy) singles off Afterburner, reaching #21 and #22, respectively, on the Billboard Top 100 in early 1986.

Rough Boy is a pretty easy karaoke song.
posted by hanov3r at 12:56 PM on July 29


aw how how how
posted by flabdablet at 12:58 PM on July 29 [7 favorites]


Wherever he is now, may Dusty finally find that tush, and all of it that he can handle.
posted by delfin at 1:05 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


Normally I have no use for white blues, blueshammer shit. But ZZ Top just refined so much of the normal bullshit out of the equation. They are the greatest. They played with ascetic purity and precision. Dusty is a ridiculously precise and yet still funky player.

Especially on the first few albums, listen to what the drums and bass are doing whenever there’s a guitar solo. “Bedroom Thang” is a great example. They don’t vamp the way normal bands do on blues changes, you can hear the thought and deliberation that went into structuring songs and maximizing the impact of their ideas.
posted by anazgnos at 1:05 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Saw then live in concert a few lifetimes ago, talk about persistence and stamina. RIP

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posted by dbiedny at 1:20 PM on July 29


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posted by lester's sock puppet at 2:18 PM on July 29


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posted by tommasz at 2:20 PM on July 29


Dusty said the reason they stayed together so long was separate Tour Buses; even when they could barely afford them.

Plus the fact that they took a hiatus as a band after a successful tour in the mid 70s, so one of them could get their life together; points to a man who had it together.

As a guy trying to learn how to play Blues Bass; his stuff from the 70's albums is wondrous. Fuzzy tone, but fills the space so well for Gibbons' soloing.
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RIP. Tres Hombres, Deguello, Tejas and Fandango on repeat tonight.
posted by indianbadger1 at 2:22 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I have been looking all up and down Youtube for the ZZ Top video where they smash pie into the bullies' faces - really thought it would be "Legs," but it's not happening! Is there another, more pie-intensive version out there?
posted by chinese_fashion at 2:28 PM on July 29


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posted by emmet at 2:31 PM on July 29


really thought it would be "Legs," but it's not happening! Is there another, more pie-intensive version out there?

Sometimes I'm not sure "Legs", "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Gimme All Your Lovin'" are actually different videos.
posted by LionIndex at 2:57 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


I have been looking all up and down Youtube for the ZZ Top video where they smash pie into the bullies' faces - really thought it would be "Legs," but it's not happening!

Is it possible you're thinking of "Velcro Fly"

I seriously doubt that it's "Velcro Fly"
I just wanted to let people know that in 1985 there was a hit song by ZZ Top about Velcro.

posted by Atom Eyes at 3:24 PM on July 29


I just wanted to let people know that in 1985 there was a hit song by ZZ Top about Velcro.

Considering that they'd already had a hit with a song about a woman who likes "whips and chains", "cocaine", and "flipping out with Great Danes", and another hit about a woman who wants a pearly necklace, "Velcro Fly" was *tame*.
posted by hanov3r at 3:29 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


These are the songs I remember from radio and MTV, but what deeper tracks should I check out?

Just Got Paid
Waitin’ for the Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
La Grange
Tush
It's Only Love
I Thank You
I'm Bad I'm Nationwide
Cheap Sunglasses
Tube Snake Boogie
Pearl Neclace
Party on the Patio
Gimme All Your Lovin
Got Me Under Pressure
Sharp Dressed Man
Legs
TV Dinners
Sleeping Bag
Velcro Fly
posted by Beholder at 4:29 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


They were some kind of mythical outlaw geniuses when I would hear them on the radio out of New Orleans in the 70s, and then when they hit their MTV stride in the 80s when I was a teenager, I felt like they were a glimpse into something raw, funny, and precise . . . and very grown up . . .
Thump on, Dusty!
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posted by pt68 at 4:41 PM on July 29 [1 favorite]


Beholder:

Somebody Else Been Shaking Your Tree
Brown Sugar (not the rolling stones song)
I Heard It On the X
Arrested For Driving While Blind
Enjoy And Get It On
Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers
Rough Boy
I Gotsta Get Paid

Edited to add, then remove Sleeping Bag, when I noticed you already listed it.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 4:49 PM on July 29


Peter Tramm, the blonde dancer and model, was also Kevin Bacon’s dance double in Footloose.

Apologies for the brief derail, but I have to follow up with a mention of Peter Tramm's brief attention-getting appearance in this 1983 commercial. Oh, my.
posted by gimonca at 6:17 PM on July 29 [2 favorites]


I went to middle school in the 80s in Florida. ZZ Top was for hicks EXCLUSIVELY, and if you were not a hick you had to like The Police and Men at Work; you could not like ZZ Top or Skynyrd or any of that, so it never occurred to me to even listen to them and I never did on purpose but they were on the radio all the time, so you'd hear them in passing whether you liked it or not.

I got older and went off to Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and Iowa. One thing led to another and I was gone many years in places that were cold and not like home. Cowboy Junkies, Velvet Underground--I liked what you're supposed to like.

I went back home after grad school and got a bullshit teaching job and a beater car with no air conditioning. It was August, the sun was high and hot, and I was burning down 301 a few months after getting back on my way to teach bonehead English in a little town near the prison where every student owned a red dually and a teeny tiny cell phone (it was 1998. your phone had to be very very small and your truck had to be very very big). Velcro Fly or Legs or something of theirs that I had reviled all my life but, crucially, had not heard since leaving Florida, came on the radio. It was so good. It was so good. I never heard anything so good in my life. I love them and I will love them forever.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:05 PM on July 29 [3 favorites]


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posted by faceplantingcheetah at 11:03 PM on July 29


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posted by filtergik at 12:01 AM on July 30


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posted by tdismukes at 1:07 AM on July 30


As kids growing up in Canada, one of my friends pronounced this group's name the Canadian way: Zed-Zed Top.

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posted by Avalow at 3:32 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


I have tickets for a ZZ Top show with Cheap Trick, delayed at least twice because of Covid. I am/was really looking forward to that...

That’s the tour I saw in 2019; both bands were great! It looks like you will get your chance to see them.
posted by TedW at 4:39 AM on July 30


I too am that Canadian guy who as pretty much always said the bands name as Zed-Zed Top... much to the annoyance of my friends.
posted by cirhosis at 8:24 AM on July 30


Came in to say what box said - It's Too Easy and Gotsta Get Paid are two particularly good examples of their later output.
posted by terretu at 9:42 AM on July 30


Every kid who grew up within a 100-mile radius of Houston in the 80s believed one of two things: a) that ZZ Top was from their hometown or b) that ZZ Top had once played at their high school in the early 70s. Being the pre-Internet era, your friend's friend's Camaro-driving older brother was a trusted source for this kind of information.
posted by bassomatic at 11:39 AM on July 30 [3 favorites]


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posted by detachd at 12:58 PM on July 30


I remember when I saw them in Houston at the Summit* in the mid-80's, after their opening number they proclaimed "We're home!" and the crowd went wild. And I'm a trusted source. :-) One of the best shows I ever saw.

I also remember a friend swearing to me when he was a bagger at a grocery store in a high end community SW of Houston Frank Beard tossed him his keys and let him drive his baby blue (err, Ferrari, Maserati, something) around to the front of the store to load groceries, and then gave him a huge tip. My friend was also a notorious bullshitter, but it was a great story after a few beers.

*It amuses me to no end that the place I saw ZZ Top, Ozzy Osborne, Ronnie James Dio and many more is now Lakewood Church. I get the feeling the former were more respectable than the current occupant.
posted by beowulf573 at 1:01 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]


Sure got cold after the rain fell.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:18 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]


I saw then in concert just a few years ago - 2016. No stage show beyond a couple of large screens. They didn't need it. The music stood on its own.
posted by COD at 3:50 PM on July 30


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posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 2:31 PM on July 31


Beholder:

If I Could Only Flag Her Down
Viva Las Vegas
posted by freakazoid at 6:47 PM on August 16


I am glad I checked back in on this thread because I cannot believe they covered "25 Lighters" or that it is so good.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:29 AM on August 20


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