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ZZ Top: A Beard Story

ZZ Top was a blues rock group from the 1970s that made it big in the 1980s with their classic, MTV, music videos. One of the most iconic aspects of ZZ Top was their western attire and long beards. Billy Gibbons, the lead vocalist and guitarist (middle of the picture) and Dusty Hill, the bass player (left of the picture) have both had their long beards since the late 1970s. Ironically, the only member of the band who does not have a beard is the drummer named Frank Beard.

ZZ Top was once offered one million dollars to cut off their beards for an ad campaign, but they refused, which was probably a smart move because ZZ Top realized that the beards had given them one of the most important things they could possibly have in the music business, a memorable appearance that was iconic only to them. ZZ Top will be remembered by most people not so much for their music, which was actually kind of average, so much as their music videos and being known as “those guys with the beards”. They might have their beards insured for one million dollars in case they caught fire or something. I wouldn’t be surprised. As long as they have the beards they will keep on raking in the money.

It wasn’t until ten years into their career, which started in 1969, that they actually grew their beards. The casual fan can hardly recognize them on the covers of their early albums such as RIo Grande Mud and Tres Hombres. ZZ Top took a vacation separately from each other in the late 1970s and came back to find out without communicating with each other that both Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill had grown their beards out. Information for this incident can also be found in the liner jacket of ZZ Top’s 2004 compilation album called Rancho Texicano: The Very Best of ZZ Top.

They got together for a meeting after their vacations and found out there was something different about the appearance of Gibbons and Hill. They had always had some facial hair before. Frank Beard had a mustache, which should have given him the name of Frank Mustache instead. Gibbons and Hill had beards before their vacation, but back then they were only one or two inches long, not as big as they are now.

Gibbons and Hill both realized that in Gibbons’ words “our beards had grown to doormat proportions”. ZZ Top’s beards and music videos are the most iconic elements of ZZ Top.

Note: One way you can tell the difference between Gibbons and Hill with or without beards, since some people can’t tell them apart and they look similar with the long beards, is that Gibbons (middle) is taller than Hill (left) and has dark hair while Hill’s hair has always been more silvery. Frank Beard always had a mustache and never a beard, so he looks drastically different from the other two. Not too mention Beard doesn’t wear western attire like Gibbons and Hill do such as cowboy hats and fancy jackets.

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