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Billy Gibbons is the bearded lead guitarist for blues/rock band ZZ Top.
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Born in Texas in 1949, Billy Gibbons started his first band in his mid-teen years. Around 1970, Gibbons formed ZZ Top, with the first album following in 1971. Their breakthrough came after the members parted ways around 1976, then grew long beards and reemerged with a newfound energy on 1983's Eliminator, which spawned several hits. Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top continue to make music, and Gibbons has branched out into television and culinary endeavors.
Billy Gibbons was born December 16, 1949, in Houston, Texas. Right after his 14th birthday, for Christmas in 1963, Gibbons got his first guitar, an electric guitar. Soon after, he formed his first band, called the Saints, with his second band, the Coachmen, following a couple of years later.
The Coachmen's sound was inspired by the Rolling Stones and other blues-infused bands of the time, but they began to get interested in the psychedelic movement of the time, soon changing their name to the Moving Sidewalks. With the name change came a hard turn into the psychedelic sounds of the time, featuring experimental songs and varying effects. The new band caught the attention of Jimi Hendrix, and Moving Sidewalks began touring with the legendary guitarist in 1968 on the "Are You Experienced" tour.
As the 1960s came to a close, so did the Moving Sidewalks. In 1969, Gibbons sought to form a more blues/rock-based band, and it was ZZ Top. The band soon cut its first single, "Salt Lick," and started playing live gigs, with Gibbons the band leader and lead vocalist.
In 1971, ZZ Top released their first album, appropriated (and humorously) called ZZ Top's First Album. The success of the album is likely attributable to the success of the band's live shows leading into it, because their second album, Rio Grande Mud (1972), didn't catch on, and neither did the tour that followed.
Tres Hombres, the band's 1973 album, was full of bluesy rock songs that stuck with the listening audience, and it put the band on the map. The album made the top 10 on the album chart and also contained ZZ Top's first top 10 single, "La Grange." The success of the tour led the band to start recording songs for a live album, and Fandango! was released in 1975. Fandango! made the top 10 as an album, and the song "Tush" reached number 20 on the Billboard singles chart.
With the band's star on the rise, they released Tejas in 1976, but it was met with critical and popular indifference.
After Tejas, the band decided to take a short break, which turned into a three-year hiatus. During that time, the band members drifted apart. When they finally reunited, they realized a funny thing: Both Gibbons and bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill had grown beards that went down to their belts. With their new look, ZZ Top hit the studio and then released Deguello, which contained two big hits: "I Thank You" and "Cheap Sunglasses." The album was a hit, and it led ZZ Top into its first-ever European gig.
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