What inspired Billy Gibbons to name his band 'ZZ Top'

News 12/03/2019

The guitarist and lead singer of rock band ZZ Top recalled how he was inspired to name his band after the posters that filled his band’s hangout room in its formative days.

He made the decision in 1969, when the lineup consisted of himself, Lanier Greig and Dan Mitchell before he changed to the trio featuring Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard that remains intact to this day.

"We had a little apartment, a little hangout room that was lined with those rainbow-coloured blues posters you’d say nailed to the telephone poll, [listing] who was coming to town," he said.

As he looked at the posters, they realised “it was odd how many current names had initials – O.V. Wright, D.C. Bender, and of course B.B. King – he was down on this end of the alphabet, then it was Z.Z. Hill.”

He recalled thinking: "Jeez, ZZ and King, that’s a good combo.” Then he decided 'ZZ King' was too similar to 'B.B. King' and that sent his thinking in a new direction. "‘King’ being at the top, I said, ‘Okay, so it’s gonna be ZZ Top, and that’s the way it is," he said.

Since choosing the name, the trio has gone on to release 15 studio albums and 45 singles, with sales above the 25 million mark in the U.S. alone - so it was obviously a winning choice.