Skip to main content

Gibbons album is tribute to dad

ZZ Top’s Billy recalls how “banging and clanging” around house led to percussion education

Billy Gibbons says his solo album Perfectamundo is “in no small part a direct homage” to his dad.

The ZZ Top guitarist’s father was a big-band leader and composer, who encouraged his son’s early discovery of percussion instruments.

And that’s one of the reasons Perfectamundo features experimental approaches to Afro-Cuban music.

Gibbons tells Chron: “I had been banging on anything and everything around the house that made a loud noise. Maybe I’d just turned 12.

“My dad had become entertained by all this banging and clanging, so one day I found myself on a plane to New York, where I was marched off to learn how to do it right.”

His father took him to mambo and Latin jazz musician Tito Puente. “This was the clincher – he didn’t say, ‘Let me show you what to do.’ He handed me some timbale sticks and said, ‘Let me hear what you want to play.’

“Apparently I had good feel for it. He said, ‘We’re not going to have a problem here. Let’s begin.’ That started it all.”

Gibbons is currently touring with his band the BFGs “It’s an intense audience,” he reports. “They’re not screaming like at a rock show – they’re standing up, some are clapping and dancing, others are studying every single guitar lick. There’s a sense of, ‘What is this?’”

Asked about ZZ Top’s future plans, he says that Dusty Hill and Frank Beard are “enjoying a nice holiday as I’m beating the touring trail,” and that they’ll be back in action next year.

From the archive

Get Involved

Trending News