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Interview:
ZZ Top at DTE, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

» See more SOUND CHECK

Back in 1975 ZZ Top sang that it wasn’t asking for much.

But it’s received, and given, a great deal over its nearly 50 year history.

The Texas trio, whose lineup has been intact since its 1969 formation, has released 15 studio albums -- the last, “Futura,” came out in 2012 -- and scored enduring hits such as “La Grange,” “Tush,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs,” among others. The group’s sly humor has been captured in iconic videos, and the parade of hot rods, pretty women, funky custom guitars and oddball hats hasn’t worn out its welcome yet.

This year ZZ Top is sharing road time with fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty, another notable notch in career that’s still comfortably chugging forward...

• Since Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival preceded ZZ Top by a couple of years, bassist Dusty Hill says by phone that he and bandmates Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard were big fans before their own records started coming out. “His songs bring back a lot of memories to me, so touring with him is fun. “The crowds are really good, and I try to figure out some type of little game -- I play, ‘I wonder Who came to see us both? Or who came to see Fogerty, kinda, Who came to see us?’ and I can’t really tell. It’s just a sea of plaid shirts -- and I have to say a long beard gives it away the other way. But neither one of us is a really big stretch for the crowd. It’s going along just fine.”

• This tour, however, is the first time ZZ Top has spent significant time with Fogerty, though the group was present at CCR’s 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. “A lot of people think everybody knows everybody,” says Hill, 69, “but unless we worked together or something...Because most people tour. So unless you work together or happen to be off and catch a show, it’s hard to meet a lot of people in the business because everybody’s always busy at the same time. But we got together this time and it’s interesting. It’s fun.”

• Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of ZZ Top’s formation, and Hill says some plans are afoot to celebrate. “I hesitate to talk about it because I don’t want to let the surprises out -- but of course. We’ve been talking about it for the last couple of years really because it kind of sneaks up on you. It’s a landmark for us, you know, and we were talking about 50 years, the same group, the same people, no changes, I think is rather unique. We’d like to do some special things. We’ve got some things planned, some surprises. It ought to be fun.”

• What’s the secret to spending 50 years with the same three guys? “With us it hasn’t been that difficult, and I do appreciate the uniqueness of it,” Hill says. “It helps that it’s a three piece -- there’s not so many people. We’re a pretty democratic group, talk things over. I always make the joke that the secret is separate tour buses. It’s not really a joke; We got separate tour buses really before we could afford to do it because we travel so much and this way, we’re always happy to see one another when we get there because you’re not traveling together.”

• This year also marks the 35th anniversary of “Eliminator,” ZZ Top’s diamond certified best-seller that introduced a new streamlined and very contemporary sound. “That was a big change for us,” Hill recalls. “We’ve had, in a way, a few careers. But (‘Eliminator’) was different, and then of course the videos and all that stuff came at the same time and it was a big change for us. We got crap about that from some people; Some of our early fans didn’t like the change, but they got used to it. There were a lot of things that happened with ‘Eliminator,’ all for the good, as it turned out. It still sounds great.”



If You Go:

• John Fogerty and ZZ Top

• 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27.

• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

• Tickets start at $30.

• Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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