ZZ Top – The Story Behind The Beards
Even if you’ve never heard a ZZ Top song (a travesty) you simply have to have those iconic beards etched into your memory! I doubt any other artists could pull that off today, imagine a boy band with beards like that? Um, nope. Only true rockers can rock a beard much less ones that long… Curious how it all began?
These 2004 Rock ‘n Roll Hall-of-Fame inductees got rolling back in 1969 (the summer of ’69? sorry, had to) as a four-piece that actually included keyboards and then a year later became the lineup that you now see today, and if you think that lineup is just two guys then you deserve a slap cause the third guy is the drummer (sans beard, but def rocking the mullet) although his last name is literally ‘Beard’… Crazy, right?
Fast-forward a few years and the trio’s 1976 album ‘Tejas’ and subsequent tour didn’t do so well, so they took a 2-year hiatus without so much as talking to each other and when they got back together to discuss ideas on how to reinvent themselves, two out of three members ironically showed up with essentially brooms hanging from their faces:
“ Bill [Ham] called a band meeting, and when the three members arrived, they noticed something had changed during their time apart. They had always had some form of facial hair, with Frank usually sporting a mustache, while Billy and Dusty had scruffy little beards no more than an inch or two long. Things were quite different now. “I walk into the room, and I’m lookin’ at a guy I think I know,” Billy laughs. “My beard has grown to doormat proportions. And I realize that Dusty had done the same thing.” Ironically, Frank Beard was the only clean-shaven member, having hacked off his mustache and goatee so he would look presentable for the meeting.”
Interesting that the drummer decided to look presentable for two guys like Dusty and Billy, but be that as it may the beards never came off and after signing with a new record company, their success started to really blossom (er, grow?) So much so that the Gillette razor company wanted to run an ad campaign in 1984 with their razor mowing down the growth on the guy’s faces. I mean it’s a great idea and would be highly lucrative because who wouldn’t tune in to watch THAT? So, Gillette offered ZZ Top a cool million bucks to be ‘the best a man can get’ and here’s what the band said:
“No dice, even adjusted for inflation, this isn’t going to fly. The prospect of seeing oneself in the mirror clean-shaven is too close to a Vincent Price film…a prospect not to be contemplated, no matter the compensation.”
I woulda sold out, but these guys knew what was up and stuck to their guns or at least their beard combs! My beard itches like crazy when I grow it out even a little so I can’t imagine doing what these guys do much less for 40+ years! Takes a real man, right Bob Plunkett?
Their first album in 9 years was released yesterday, number 15 for the whiskered wizards and they’re still ‘sharply dressed’… Look for the first single from the record on the new Battleship movie newly out to DVD.