ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons: “Prince and I discussed guitar techniques”

ZZ Top

You had to reschedule a few shows due to bassist Dusty Hill’s injury. How is he now?

‘The Dust’ took a spill through a darkened backstage area, but he’s on the mend to come over and rock it in a big way.

This summer you’re playing at Glastonbury Festival – a rather hip event. Does that make you approach things differently?

Well, Glastonbury is something special – very special indeed. If there’s any impact toward the performance, it’s simply ‘turn it up and then turn it up again!’

Several of this year’s Glastonbury artists will be including a David Bowie or a Prince song in their set. Will ZZ be doing one?

That remains a possibility. My friendship and admiration with both artists remains intact. Prince and I sat down a few years back in New York and discussed guitar techniques, and I’ll be the first to admit that he captivated me totally.

Do you prefer playing indoors, or outdoors?

It depends on the weather. If it’s raining we’d of course prefer to be under cover. But the performance is always full tilt, top up or top down.

Last year you released your debut solo album, the Latino-flavoured Perfectamundo, to rave reviews. Given that you’re known for a particular style of music, were you surprised that people got it the way they did?

We approached Perfectamundo with an open mind, and were topped up when both critics and fans did the same. At the root of it was a blues/rock guitar sound. However, the focus on rhythm was different – we put it up front to move things out back, and it works. The experience at the Havana Jazz Festival remains a continuing source of our inspiration.

The review in Classic Rock said the album utilised “a little extra spice from south of the border” in the same way that Tres Hombres and Tejas had done. Could Perfectamundo rub off on the next ZZ Top album?

Every musical antecedent has an impact on what comes thereafter, so we’ll see. However, I would be amused to see ZZ Top’s next release sound like out-takes from a Tito Puente session.

If there’s to be a sixteenth ZZ album, how long will we have to wait?

Got something working right now. Get ready to rock!

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.