Billy Gibbons: Six Things We Learned from His New Classic Rock Interview

(Image credit: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Billy Gibbons has been a busy man of late. Last July, he released his debut solo album, Perfectamundo, an Afro-Cuban fusion that took his music in a completely different direction. This year, Gibbons and ZZ Top have spent much of their time on the road, and on September 9 the group drops its new album, Live: Greatest Hits from Around the World.

Gibbons and the group appear on the cover of Classic Rock’s latest issue. The magazine spoke with the guitarist, and below we present six things we learned from their interview.

The song that made him want to pick up the guitar was…

“Anything by the great bluesman Jimmy Reed,” Billy says. “His music drew me like a magnet. If you want a specific song then it was his first single, ‘High and Lonesome.’ ”

Gibbons’ first guitar was…

“A 1962 Gibson Melodymaker, a single pick-up, single cutaway. A nice guitar to start off with—it was a full on solid body. I used it with a Fender Champ tweed amplifier.”

The first thing he learned on a guitar was…

“‘What’d I Say’ by Ray Charles. Is it a hard one to begin with? Well, it all depends on the player. That first guitar I mentioned was dragged out from beneath the Christmas tree, I’d just turned 13; I plugged it in, cranked it up and by the end of the afternoon I’d worked out that opening figure.”

The best advice another guitarist has given him is…

“I picked up quite a bit from B.B. King during a friendship that lasted for many years. One of the best things he said to me was, ‘I always found it handy to learn to play what I wanted to hear.’ ”

If he wasn’t a musician he’d be…

“A pharmacist.”

The album he wants to be buried with is…

“Anything by Jimmy Reed. The best one to start with is the self-titled one, I’m Jimmy Reed.”

You can read the full interview at

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Guitar World Staff

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