Billy Gibbons Shares The Bizarre Method He Used To Name His Band “ZZ Top”

Billy Gibbons recalled how he was inspired to name his band ZZ Top after the posters that filled his band’s hangout room in its formative days.

He made the decision in 1969, when the lineup consisted of himself, Lanier Greig and Dan Mitchell, before he changed to the trio featuring Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard that remains intact to this day.

“We had a little apartment, a little hangout room that was lined with those rainbow-colored blues posters you’d see nailed to the telephone pole, [listing] who was coming to town,” he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.

As they looked at the posters, he said, they realized “it was odd how many current names had initials – O.V. Wright, D.C. Bender, and of course B.B. King – he was down on this end of the alphabet, then it was Z.Z. Hill.”

Gibbons recalled he thought, “Jeez, ZZ and King, that’s a good combo.’” Then he decided “ZZ King” was too similar to “B.B. King” and that sent his thinking in a new direction. “‘King’ being at the top, I said, ‘Okay, so it’s gonna be ZZ Top, and that’s the way it is,” he said.

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