Billy Gibbons is one third of the band ZZ Top, but is quickly recognized around the globe because of his long flowing manly beard. Although he currently still tours with ZZ Top, you have to go back several decades to learn about how the band started, why he became interested in Rock-n-Roll, and more importantly, why has he grown that beard so long all these years.
The story of Billy and his beard and band are more interesting than you might realize, so let’s go back to the beginning before Billy was able to even play his first guitar.
Billy and His Childhood Years
Before billy Gibbons could even grow a beard, back when he was only five years old, something happened that would set him on the course to Rock-n-Roll legendary status. He was only five-years old when his dad decided to take young Billy to a club called the Shamrock located in Houston Texas.
That night, Mary Kaye Trio was playing, and for whatever reason, little Billy found himself on the stage with the band drumming on anything he could get his little hands on. The band took Billy’s dad aside later that night and said he should be careful because that little guy has some rhythm in his blood.
That night seemed to have ignited the fire inside Billy, but it wasn’t until years later when the blaze became an inferno. Billy was home watching the Ed Sullivan Show on the family television when the King of Rock-n-Roll, Elvis Presley, made his appearance in 1956.
When he began singing the classic song “Too Much”, the fire inside Billy rages out of control and fueled his passion to become a rock star. Billy also recalls that when he and his sister were being cared for by the maid, that they would go on little field trips several times a week and he got to experience the local live scene with his own little eyes.
Once the fire was lit, Billy was already on his course with destiny, and thing seemed to fall in line every step of the way for this legend.
The Beginning of ZZ Top
Although Billy had some experiences in the rock scene for years, it was the forming of ZZ Top that cemented his place in rock history. The band was formed back in 1969, and over 40 years later the original trio can still be heard playing their unique brand of rock music around the globe.
They hold the distinction today of being the longest running band with original members ever. Billy recalls breaking into the Texas club scene with his then promoter Bill Ham in the 60’s. As fate would have it, it was a Halloween party in 1969 where Billy was introduced to his band-mates Frank Beard and Dusty Hill.
The two were playing at the party and someone suggested Billy join them on stage for their next set. The three instantly clicked and have not been apart since.
The Beginning of the Beard
Billy did not always have that trademark chest-length beard you see him with today. In fact, Billy Gibbons and Dusty did not even have beards when they first started touring. ZZ Top was a huge success right out of the gates, and they toured the world right up until 1977, when the band needed a break.
The three took an extended hiatus, while the band manager began work on negotiating new deals. Over two years later when they reached a deal with Warner Bros. Records, the band got back together to work. During that long time out of the limelight, two of the band members, Billy and Dusty, grew their now trademark chest-length beards.
Ironically, Frank Beard, has never allowed his facial hair to compete with the rest of the band and has only grown a mustache.
The $1 Million Dollar Offer
There has been some speculation about whether Billy was ever offered money to shave his beard, and he sets the record straight with the world. Dusty and Billy by the 80’s had become iconic in the industry, and their beards were getting as much or more publicity that the band.
When you think of all those infamous ZZ Top music videos, you can not imagine those two strumming their guitars without their manly beard getting in the way. The beards of these two were cemented in the minds of their fans, and the boys were not going to disappoint their fans.
So when Gillette came along in 1984 and offered them $1 million dollars to use their razors to go clean-shaven, Billy says the decision was a no-brainer. These Rock ‘N Roll Hall Of Fame inductees declined the money and have never regretted turning down all that cash.
Billy Gibbons Today
Billy told countless newspapers and magazines recently that even if the offer to shave his beard was adjusted for inflation today, the answer would still be no. Today Billy Gibbons is all about the beard, the music, and those cars.
The cars that you saw featured in all those ZZ Top music videos come from his personal collection. Billy says he feels that fast cars and fast women just go hand-in-hand with the Rock-n-Roll lifestyle. He enjoys finding old classic cars in a state of disrepair and bringing those old contenders back to life.
He credits his 46+ years in ZZ Top to the beard. Billy says the beard brings him good luck, and many other benefits you might not think a legend in the rock world would consider.
Billy says the beard affords him the ability to be lazy, and that the world might not be ready to see what is under all that facial hair. To be safe and protect his future, Billy confirms that he does have a very expensive insurance policy on the beard. That is a typical Rock-n-Roll bad boy.