The 30 Most Badass Guitarists of All Time
Born December 16, 1949
Band ZZ Top
Iconic Guitar 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard, a.k.a. “Pearly Gates”
Coolest Riff “Heard It on the X”—Fandango!
Bumper-sticker philosophy says that he who dies with the most toys wins. If that’s true, Billy Gibbons would be the hands-down champion.
The sharp-dressed ladies man known to his friends as “the Reverend Willie G” owns more hot rods, Harleys, vintage and custom guitars, amps, stomp boxes, museum-quality African art pieces, cowboy jackets, tortoise-shell combs and cheap sunglasses than two dozen sultans of Dubai could ever hope to acquire.
Every ZZ Top tour is a treat for guitar geeks, as Gibbons uses the occasions to unveil a six-string surprise. (Last year it was an elusive Gibson Moderne.) But what really makes Gibbons cool is a certain undefinable quality called “vibe.” Anyone who has ever met Billy and gotten to know him—however briefly—has an outrageous story to tell about the encounter.
Gibbons has also twisted more than a few towering tall tales in his time, but his life is so surreal that it’s hard to tell where the truth ends and the trip takes over. His colorful manner of speech, known as “Gibbonics,” has made him one of Guitar World’s favorite interview subjects, especially since his poetic ponderings are loaded with insight, wisdom and a unique sense of humor.