ZZ Top keeps rocking on


ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons has a unique perspective on transitioning from a solo tour in Europe right into a huge multi-city tour.

“When tracing the topic of good times due consideration, the main catalyst is definitely live, loud music,” said the 73-year-old Gibbons, the band’s guitarist and primary vocalist. “ZZ maintains the position to generate that exact kind of good time for audiences across the board. The offshoot of the ZZ outfit does best by staying out there keeping it turned way up. Rock ’n’ roll stays hard on its own as a special reward worthy of multiple gold stars.”

The blues rock band joins Lynyrd Skynyrd on “The Sharp Dressed Simple Man Tour,” which includes an Aug. 20 appearance at Ruoff Music Center. Uncle Kracker opens the concert at 6:30 p.m.

ZZ Top has a long history with Lynyrd Skynyrd, so it’s fitting the groups are again touring together.

“We’ve known ‘The Skyn’ since forever and it’s great always reconnecting any place, any time,” Gibbons said. “Working with the Skynyrd outfit maintains a strident reward, renewing again and again.”

ZZ Top took a three-year break from touring in the late 1970s as drummer Frank Beard dealt with a substance abuse issue. All three band members were also exhausted from the grind of touring.

“Each of us knew that peculiar break was necessarily temporary,” Gibbons said. “We came back realizing the same wavelength resonated with a crazy fashion of chin whiskers and valuable views of a common world. The mission, which we chose to accept, was and is to get out and make big noise. It’s a time-tested formula for fine times on deck.”

Gibbons and late-bassist Dusty Hill came back from the hiatus with their famous beards, and their status grew even larger with MTV videos.

“Quite unexpectedly, millions felt in touch with the ongoing offerings of ZZ Top videos,” Gibbons said. “Quite a league of followers liked what we were doing. It expanded the band’s horizons with a searing, serious reach. That, and the real Texas get-down approach became obvious — truly, a cross-cultural, cross-generational big bang.”

Hill died in 2021 and was replaced by Elwood Francis, who Hill had recommended as his successor. Francis had previously been the band’s guitar technician.

“Elwood’s got a great ‘can-do’ attitude that comes through each and every night for the band and beyond,” Gibbons said. “There’s a special positioning maintained so very respectful of the ZZ Top legacy. And now, known to having been inside with us more than three decades, Elwood’s part of it. And, after all, it was The Dust’s desire that wanted ‘Sir Francis’ to be the designated hitter.”

Gibbons has joked the key to the band’s longevity has been separate tour buses, but the main factor is the band members have always been on the same page musically.

“Though we came up in different places around Texas, we experienced the same inspiration thanks to the powerful border blaster X radio stations broadcasting from down in Mexico, which we respectively tuned in and listened to,” Gibbons said. “The skew was a cauldron of blues, Gospel, R&B and rockabilly and reinforcing that common impact driving a desire to play all that stuff in the recording studio and on stage.”

“La Grange” is always a special moment in the concert, Gibbons said.

“The two numbers delivering an unexpected personal charge is actually a collision of ‘Waitin’ For The Bus’ and ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago,’” Gibbons said. “That pairing wasn’t written as a combo. Tracks 1 and 2 on ‘Tres Hombres’ wound up without separation, which unexpectedly melded as a seamless single to the luck of the mastering slip of the blade.

“We took that coupling forward making certain they co-join with each performance.”