Two years after having seen the light of day in Houston, ZZ Top launches a first collection of songs which will allow the group to leave Texas and perform all over the United States. Launched January 16, 1971, ZZ Top’s First Album is 50 years old.
For bearded Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard, who did not wear a beard at the time, this debut opus is the first milestone in a career that still continues and is filled with success. With 15 studio albums, the American trio has sold 70 million worldwide.
ZZ Top chose the title ZZ Top’s First Album to indicate, quite simply, that there would be a second.
“We wanted everyone to know that there would be more. We weren’t sure we’d get another chance to go to the studio, but our hopes were high, ”guitarist Billy Gibbons said in a 2013 interview on MusicRadar.
Before this album, ZZ Top had launched the single Salt lick. Billy Gibbons was surrounded, at that time, by bassist and keyboardist Lanier Greig and drummer Dan Mitchell, who were then quickly replaced by Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.
It was guitarist Billy Gibbons who came up with the idea for the name ZZ Top. He had noticed on the posters of groups in their apartment the presence of several names with initials. The names of guitarist BB King and blues singer ZZ Hill were combined to make ZZ King and then become ZZ Top. Because the King is at the top.
Even so, the mystery surrounding the band’s name remains. The musicians have given, over the years, all kinds of explanations, muddying the waters and creating a confusion that seems intended.
ZZ Top’s First Album, which is listened to very well today, has not been very successful. However, in 35 minutes, it defined the boogie, hard rock and southern rock alloy, which would become the group’s trademark.
The simple (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree, which opens the album, failed to find its place on the magazine’s charts Billboard.
We will have to wait for the release of the album Rio Grande Mud and the 45 rpm Francine, launched a year later, to see a ZZ Top track hit the Billboard, with a 69e position.
The ten songs of this opus have disappeared from the repertoire of the formation. The Brown sugar, Certified Blues and Just got back from Baby’s have been very little and rarely performed live.
Recorded at Robin Hood Studios, Texas, ZZ Top’s First Album was produced by their manager, Bill Ham.