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ZZ Top: The Texas-raised trio's name has been the subject of debate. Lets start with the "ZZ". The Q Encyclopedia Of Rock Stars says it came from an open pair of hay-loft doors with "Z" beams seen by guitarist Billy Gibbons. He's given this account to Goldmine magazine as long ago as 1991.
The musicians now tell me it was an attempted parody of venerable blues players like B.B. King and Z.Z. Hill. "We wanted to be like a crusty bluesman". "Z.Z." was always going to make their records easy to find in record shops - and their entry easy to find in books like this. The barn doors just knocked home the idea.
Many accounts give the origin of "Top" from cigarette rolling papers: Top, Zig Zag or Rizla brands, which share some similarities with the band's ZZ logo. Gibbons says it actually just came to him one day to fit the "ZZ". "It was a top name."
Name notes: (1) They formed after the break-up of The Warlocks - a name also considered by The Grateful Dead and The Velvet Underground - and the psychedelia-influenced Moving Sidewalks. (2) The "Z"s are said U.S.-style: "Zee Zee Top", not "Zed Zed Top". (3) Tribute band: Redbeards From Texas. (4) ZZ Top achieved their greatest success after Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill grew long beards. Note that the clean-shaven one is called Frank Beard. As we have seen throughout this book, names can be misleading things.
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