Forget the beards, the rotating electric guitars, the slick videos: it's the irresistible sizzle of ZZ Top's music that made them the hottest blues band to come out of Texas.
Everyone has their own favorite Top tune, and here, we've rounded up some of today's biggest guitarists to discover their picks and find out how Billy Gibbons and co impacted their playing.
“I know everyone will pick La Grange. It’s impossible to resist its charm today as it was the day it was released. However, the most ‘WTF’ BG guitar sound has got to be on Loaded from Rhythmeen. Only the Rev Billy Gibbons could dream up, figure out how to record and make that beautifully broken guitar sound work. Pure genius!” - Joe Satriani
"Tush is probably my favorite. It’s a fun, fun track and the guitar solos are inspiring. Also, I just love that the song is only two minutes, 17 seconds long. They jammed it all in there the right way.” - Christone 'Kingfish' Ingram
“Lowdown In The Street off Degüello. It’s about the scene at the old Rome Inn in Austin back in the day. Billy was kind enough to shout out several people in the song - including me! Good times!” - Jimmie Vaughan
“My favorite is Cheap Sunglasses from Degüello. The atmosphere of the song just makes you feel cool.” - Steve Vai
“I love (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree off ZZ Top’s First Album. It’s hard to imagine Billy Gibbons as anything other than a legend now, but you can really hear the fire in him as a young guitar player making their first record here, and you also can hear the echoes of everything else that’s going on at the time, from Free to Freddie King!” - Paul Sayer (The Temperance Movement)
“One of my earliest concerts as a kid was ZZ Top, and I was blown away by Got Me Under Pressure. It was classic ZZ Top - tons of musical mojo and a visually over-the-top stage show.” - Gretchen Menn
“That’s easy - Brown Sugar from ZZ Top’s First Album and then Just Got Paid from Rio Grande Mud. When I was hanging out with David Lee Roth, he said he just listened to these records - and nothing else!” - John 5
“I was raised in Houston with ZZ Top always blaring on my jam box! If I had to choose one, I’d go with Blue Jean Blues because it’s beautiful. Billy G spills his soul onto it, and it brings me to my knees every time I hear it!” - Marzi Montazeri (Heavy As Texas)
“I’ve always loved Legs. [It has a] great driving train groove, and Billy’s harmonics and funky lead still make me smile. My old band Grin opened for them a bit in the early '70s, and they were all memorable nights.” - Nils Lofgren
“Subject matter aside, La Grange is a guitar player’s dream song. Great groove, riff and killer licks in the solos! If you’re a guitarist at a jam and someone calls out La Grange, you’re in luck.” - Nita Strauss
“I have many ZZ Top favorites, bu Jesus Just Left Chicago from Tres Hombres reminds me of when I first saw them play. Frampton’s Camel opened for them, and they were an instant new fave.” - Peter Frampton
“Can’t pick one. Impossible! Simply, it’s just the real thing! You can’t learn what Billy does. You have to have lived it - just like the whole band has!” - Steve Lukather
“Waitin' For The Bus has the best Billy Gibbons guitar solo ever - and the best subtle use of a wah-wah pedal I’ve ever heard.” - Buzz Osborne (Melvins)
“It would have to be Sharp Dressed Man, which my dad and I listened to a lot when I was a kid. Hearing riffs like that as a boy is what got me excited about playing guitar.” - Jared Dines
“Billy Gibbons is one of my all-time favorite players. His style, touch and tone are all unmistakable. That kind of recognizable character and unique personality on the instrument is what makes certain players stand out as magical. He is one of those dudes for me, one of the greatest blues-rock players ever to pick up a guitar.” - Mark Morton
“Tush has it all - great groove, killer Texas tone and a rippin’ slide solo! It’s a classic in my house.” - Neal Tiemann (Devildriver)
“Growing up on Long Island, I’d hear La Grange all the time played on the local rock radio station. It was one of those songs like Free Bird, where the DJ never apologized for the extended outro guitar solo taking up precious minutes on the airwaves.
“I remember loving it the first time I heard it - that slick shuffle feel, signature drum fill and the quirky vocal approach all caught my attention. Even more so was Billy’s finesse on the guitar. My friends and I used to jam on it all the time, and if you can somehow nail those insane artificial pick harmonics that Billy pulled off so expertly, it was a sort of rite of passage in our little hometown guitar circle.
“Fast-forward to the first of many G3 tours that Joe Satriani would invite me to be a part of, and there I was night after night playing La Grange as one of our end-of-show jam songs, trading solos with Joe and Steve Vai. In fact, Billy came out to one of the shows in Houston and we all traded together. Talk about a surreal moment!” - John Petrucci
“La Grange - I used to get that song as a request all the time when doing bar cover gigs, and no one knew it was ZZ Top. They always just asked for it by singing the main riff. That’s why riffs are such a great asset. “If they are tasty and strong enough, they can supersede the credit of the writer and performer and kind of live in a legendary status all on their own. I want guitar riffs to live forever.” - Daniel Donato
“Heard It On The X - I played it in my cover band when I was 14, and it was a highlight of our set. I love the trade-off vocals, the proto-Hot for Teacher rhythm guitar lick and twangy chromatic line. And I’m pretty sure the solo is slide guitar through a wah-wah. Good choices abound.” - Paul Gilbert
“I Gotsta Get Paid, because it showcases how B.F.G. and the boys take the best from the past and keep it so incredibly fresh. Only they could do it like that.” - Tyler Bryant
“I love Velcro Fly. It’s a cool mix of dance, blues-rock fusion with the signature Billy Gibbons guitar tone and phrasing. ZZ Top were the masters of experimenting with sounds, but always found a way to keep the blues roots of rock and roll in their music.
“And, of course, there’s La Grange. The pinch harmonics and the intro sonically define the meaning of badass. There’s a reason La Grange has over 123 million views on YouTube!” - Malina Moye
“Just Got Back From Baby's - it’s just straight-up nasty blues done to perfection.” - Paul Jackson (Blackberry Smoke)
“Sharp Dressed Man - one of my dad’s bands used to play it all the time when I was a kid!” - Jason Richardson
“It's nearly impossible to pick a favorite ZZ Top song. Today I’ll say it’s I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide. As usual, the guitar tone is absolutely perfect, and is there anything cooler than that little stutter lick before the verses? I don’t think so.” - Charlie Starr (Blackberry Smoke)
“Hands down, Waitin' For The Bus/Jesus Just Left Chicago. Those are the essential ZZ Top tracks. The laid-back, dirty Texas blues groove encompasses you. Billy’s guitar just screams. If you’re talking about attitude, swagger and soul, it doesn’t get better than that. To this day I haven’t heard else anything like it.” - Justin Benlolo (BRKN Love)
“Blue Jean Blues - aside from being a really cool song, it’s the ultimate example of Billy Gibbons’ guitar playing.” - Warren Haynes
“Lowdown In The Street - It has such a great groove to it. It gets me going.” - Erika Wennerstrom
“Sharp Dressed Man - I really like the guitar tone and attitude. It’s fun and raucous!” - Dave Davies