In 1977 I was finishing up school in Ft. Wayne, IN. To make ends meet, I was waiting tables at the Marriott Hotel’s restaurant. One night, two men were dining. One long, dark hair, down to the middle of his back. The other, a bushy blond beard. The bearded man’s shirt was open and he was wearing a big Texas shaped medallion.
On one of my trips to the kitchen, the busboy said asked if I knew who they were; I said no. He told me they were Frank Beard and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top. They were in town to make up for a previously canceled concert.
When I went back to the table, I asked if they were ZZ Top. Dusty smiled and said they were. I said, “My brother says you’re great, but I’ve never heard anything you’ve done.” They laughed. And for a tip, they gave me four tickets to their concert. I gave two to the bus boy and a buddy and I went on the other two. WOW … fantastic show! Never knew three guys could put out so much non-stop sound. It’s the end of and era. Through the last 50 years that little ol’ band from Texas the blues rock trio ZZ Top has put out a good deal of great music that I enjoyed a lot. Let’s face it with a trio when you lose a member, the idea of continuing is a bit dubious… When it’s a trio that’s been together for a half century…but per Dusty’s request “The show must go on!” Still like I said, it’s the end of an era.
Texas Blues was rearing its head in 1975 when ZZ Top released their fourth studio album. Side one was recorded live, but side two was all studio, including the single “Tush”, which became the group’s first Top 40 single. I would count ZZ Top — technically, Billy Gibbons is the only founding member, but both Dusty Hill and Frank Beard have been members since 1969, before they became famous, and all three are still alive (and still together).
All four members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young — David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young — are also still alive; CSN was formed in 1968, and Neil Young first joined in 1969. I always qualify these types of questions by giving my favorite, as “best” is totally subjective.Cream – Eric Clapton, one of the greatest guitarists during that time, Jack Bruce, with one of the best rock voices ever, on bass; and Ginger Baker, an absolutely stellar drummer.Jimi Hendrix Experience – The other members do not really matter, do they?James Gang – The great Joe Walsh and company.
Robin Trower – One of the most underrated guitar players of all time. At one time his band had Jack Bruce on bass and lead vocals!Rush – not exactly a power trio in the conventional sense, but there are three incredibly talented musicians in one group.Emerson, Lake and Palmer – an absolute wizard on keyboards, an all time beast of a drummer and one of the smoothest voices in prog rock in Greg Lake.
ZZ Top – a no nonsense straight ahead rock and roll band, Billy Gibbons on guitar and his rough and raspy vocals, Dusty Hill on bass and occasional vocals (much smoother than Billy) and Frank Beard on drums, coincidentally, the only band member without a beard.
The John Butler Trio – From Australia, John Butler is an amazing guitarist, singer and song writer, who plays mostly acoustic and amplified acoustic guitars. Very rootsy, but very rock and roll. They should be checked out by all. I will throw in the Police, Green Day and Triumph as well.